Sunday, March 09, 2008

Nothing Hushed About This Puppy

A street in downtown Angers, France, where I made the decision to purchase some shoes made by, it turns out, Wolverine World Wide. I bought the shoes in Rockford when I got home.

Interesting story in today's Grand Rapids Press about the 50th anniversary of the Hush Puppy brand of shoes, the leader among nine brands of Rockford's own Wolverine World Wide.

For one, it's a good case study of a brand campaign. In this case, the company plans a year-long effort to celebrate the brand's anniversary. The campaign will include a celebrity designer series and some good social marketing including a shoe drive and cross country tour fundraiser for an animal shelter. I would have been interested to read more about the details of the campaign. Perhaps WMPRSA can invite Hush Puppies Brand President Mark Neal and Global Marketing Director Jenni Hamilton in for a program this coming year.

I also found it interesting that, according to Neal, even non-English speakers around the world recognize and can say "Hush Puppies." That means, in academic international branding theory, they are using a standardized or global approach. One name and brand presentation across the globe. Some have argued that a specialized or international approach--with different brand strategies for each country or region of the world--is best. Others advocate a compromise, with broad brand themes consistent but implementation adapted to local markets. It says something about the strength of the brand that the name--which comes from Southern U.S. culture--resonates in many languages and countries.

Incidentally, Wolverine's other brands do well overseas too. In Europe you tend to walk a lot, at least I did. During a trip to France in 2005 (see photo above), I found my causal dress shoes inadequate for the walking in the cooler, wet weather of November. In a store window I saw some shoes that looked both dressy and warm enough for such a situation. Investigating, I noticed they were Caterpillar brand. After flying home a week later, I made the drive out to Rockford to buy a pair at Wolverine's outlet store.

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