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Retail
Published: 9 Apr 2015

Heritage With A Social Media Spin: Clarks x WhatsApp

Trading on social media to attract millennial consumers, British footwear brand Clarks is tapping popular instant messaging service WhatsApp for a multimedia campaign celebrating the 65th anniversary of its iconic desert boot.

Dubbed 'From Rats to Rudeboys', the campaign launches on April 13. Messages containing images, videos and playlists will be sent directly to WhatsApp users who have opted in to the initiative, having been prompted by teaser films currently being posted on Clarks' social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter. To gain access to the material, users simply add an 11-digit number to their in-app contacts list. On sign-up, they will also be sent an additional video introducing late British designer and founder of the Clarks desert boot, Nathan Clark.

The main focus of the material is to explain the brand's affiliation with key cultural, music and style movements of the past 65 years, such as the birth of dancehall music in Jamaica in the 70s, and the 60s UK mod scene (see also Fred Perry Store Harnesses Heritage and Music Meets Retail). However, there will also be content from three contemporary creatives: British reggae historian and former mod Steve Barrow (known for wearing sharp tweed suits with his desert boots), French photographer Bruno Barbey (whose photos of riots in Paris in 1968 show students wearing Clarks shoes), and Jah Stitch, Jamaican musician and member of 70s Kingston gang, The Spanglers.

For more on the value of socialised, app-based retail experiences, see the section Social + Loyalty: Layer Up to Add Depth in Start-Pause-Go: Retail in Hyper-Flow, part of our Roaming Retail Industry Trend.

As part of a wider mission to elevate consumer perception of the brand, in June 2015, Clarks will also unveil an interactive digital piece at London's Victoria & Albert Museum, dubbed Clarks Unboxed. It forms part of the museum's summer exhibition, Shoes: Pleasure & Pain, which examines the cultural significance of shoes.

For more on the value of revealing a brand back-story to forge new consumer connections and boost loyalty, see Monetising Brand Heritage, Mall Museums: Luxury Perspectives and 21st-Century Archives: Wising Up to the Heritage Economy. See also Exploiting Insider Access and A/W 15-16 Shows: Social Media & Tech for more on brands using social media to reveal the people and processes behind them.

For more on key current strategies relating to the footwear sector see Retail Footwear Focus

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