Back in 2011, Clarks approached e3 to create a digital advertising campaign for their new Women’s range of shoes. At the time, Clarks was on a mission to start changing people’s perceptions of the brand in order to start attracting a younger and more fashion-aware audience – developing the heritage angle and really communicating the values behind the organisation. We are now three campaigns down and about to start work on a fourth, with other exciting pieces of work in the pipeline.
As Clarks Account Director here at e3, I wanted to reflect on my own experiences with the brand, and took a fresh look myself. My strongest memory of Clarks before working with them was of the almost Wonka-like in-store measuring machine – though my child-like mind invented it into something so much more exciting. I can vividly remember the process: a wooden block was removed to reveal a shiny metal recess where I was expected to trustingly place my juvenile foot. Once in place, the machine would come to life – whirring and beeping as the metal blocks smoothly slid out of nowhere – the vital numbers registering on the illuminated dials in front of me.
Looking back now, it seems strange that having had such a positive and memorable experience at Clarks as a child, I would completely block them out of my thought process once I started being in charge of my own shoe buying decisions. Mine is not a unique story either, a lot of people that I speak to on the subject have a similar recollection of having their shoes fitted at Clarks as a kid, but have never returned since then.
It would seem that in excelling at quality school shoes, as well as the more ‘comfortably sensible’ end of the adult shoe market, Clarks has slightly alienated some of the general fashion-aware adult audience. As with all brands, there are certain values that we associate with Clarks: sensible, comfortable and possibly even a bit old fashioned. All very worthy qualities in the right context, but probably not what you are looking for in your next pair of boots to wear on a Friday night out.
As a result, even though I knew I’d get a quality product from Clarks, the idea of their shoes didn’t excite me, and I assumed there wouldn’t be any styles on offer that I would like. Working with them prompted me to take a fresh look and I can honestly say I’ve been really pleasantly surprised. Sure enough, nestled in amongst some of the more traditional designs and the washable slippers were some really exciting-looking shoes and boots. So exciting in fact, that I’m now on my second pair! Admittedly, both of them are Clarks Originals - which have always had an effortless cool factor to them anyway - but there are many other styles that I can’t wait to try and add to my shoe rack.
Today, I’ve taken a completely new view towards Clarks, both as a British brand icon steeped in heritage and also on a product level. Hopefully, our continued work with them will help to drive more and more people to do the same.
Read more about our work for Clarks here