Entertainment Magazine

Converse’s City Carnage: Marketing Shoes Like It’s Their Job

Posted on the 25 July 2012 by Kdcoduto @katydee

I recently saw Sleigh Bells perform at Converse’s City Carnage Festival in New York City. Taking place on Pier 63 in Chelsea, overlooking the Hudson River, the concert was by all means a success. Great sound, great bands and great atmosphere meant that all involved were able to have a great time at a great price (free!).

However, while Sleigh Bells put on a killer show, you can read the review of that over on Hi! Magazine’s website, where it will soon be posted.

In the meantime, though, Converse needs to be recognized for the insane marketing effort they have for their shoes. While Vans’ has had their Warped Tour for over 15 years now, Converse has never sponsored a full-on tour. Vans has cornered the emo/punk/screamo market, bashing them over the head with their Vans-sponsored show which features a Vans tent full of Vans merchandise, including t-shirts and wallets. While Vans has this one attentive audience and is feeding them numerous products, Converse has tried something else.

And I just absolutely love it.

First, Converse pulled a great stunt this past weekend. The branding that took place can only be described as beautiful. Before you could get into the venue, you had to get tickets (although they were free, you needed a physical ticket), and those tickets proclaimed that this was “Converse City Carnage.” You could only get these tickets by ordering them off of Ticketmaster or by getting them from the Converse store in SoHo. Once you got the tickets, you also received a coupon for 20% off in the Converse store. What a nice little incentive to go back soon.

While you waited in line to get into the venue, your ID was checked if you wanted to drink. Anyone who was over 21 received wristbands, and even the wristbands had the Converse logo. Then, once you passed through security and had your ticket checked, Converse gave everyone free drink holders that proclaimed a variety of slogans, all based off of their core message: “Shoes are boring. Wear sneakers.” For example: “Shoes party. Sneakers after party.” Free tickets to a show and then free stuff upon entry? Converse knows how to do it.

Once inside, the pier was picture perfect. Overlooking the Hudson and full of lush green grass, Converse couldn’t have picked a better place for their show. They also had great weather, which certainly helped. The stage at the center of all of this was flanked by two huge columns, which both again proclaimed “Converse City Carnage.” A VIP tent off to the side was decorated with Converse logos, and every Converse employee – whether selling drinks or filming or whatever – was wearing a Converse shirt and Converse shoes. Converse were literally unavoidable. This wasn’t an instance where all they did was put up the stage. Converse wanted you to know who was giving you this free show.

Once the show was over, Converse wasn’t done. Employees stood by the exits handing out tons of free stickers, all with Converse’s new slogan, again “Shoes are boring. Wear sneakers.” The simple black and white stickers were handed out by the dozens, and eager hipsters grabbed them up, sure to stick them on their MacBooks as soon as possible.

And this is what Converse has done: Instead of targeting the group that Vans already has, Converse has gone for a much sneakier group. Converse, in doing the City Carnage show, went after hipsters. These are kids who don’t want to fit in, who want to be even more obscure than their emo counterparts with Vans, and yet are still looking to identify with brands. Converse has made their slogan hipster, brought on hipster bands and given the hipsters the power to shop. It’s especially smart as shops like Forever 21 and H&M are currently dominating, and Converse can look to fit in with their styles.

I noticed all of this because, the day after the show, I was perusing the Converse website for more information on their City Carnage arrangements. Instead of finding out more, I ended up with a new pair of shoes.

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