What comes to mind when you hear the brand name “Converse?” You’re likely to think “sneakers,” “Chuck Taylors,” “basketball,” and even “Nike.” But for many, the word “music” isn’t necessarily top-of-mind. The company doesn’t incorporate music into its marketing, so it’s not surprising that it wouldn’t be associated with the brand.
Why, then, would the sneaker company invest in a 5,200 square foot state-of-the-art recording studio, with award-winning engineers, offering recording time to aspiring musicians… free of charge?
In PJA Radio’s recent episode of The Unconventionals, Converse CMO Geoff Cottrill explains, “Most brands borrow equity from a musician… to make their brand look a certain way to a certain demographic… to look cool.” Instead, Converse found greater value in celebrating its consumer rather than celebrating itself.
Converse built Rubber Tracks, the Brooklyn, NY-based studio, to give emerging musicians the opportunity to record their music, no strings attached. “For what it costs to run three to four weeks of heavy TV [advertising] in the U.S., a good heavy campaign one time for a month, we could… run a studio for a number of years.”
If you think the intent is to make bands famous and tying the Converse name to them, it’s not. Cottrill emphasizes that they’re not making empty promises. “We’ve been really focused on making sure we keep our feet on the ground and that we don’t get into the music business because that’s not our business.”
The team at Converse wanted to become useful to its biggest proponents by helping those who might not otherwise have been able to afford studio time elsewhere. They channeled their focus from creating a marketing message to turning the experience itself into the message. Doing so enabled them to build more meaningful relationships, and life-long memories for its core consumers—creative individuals. Cottrill notes, “The interactions that they have with you are what they carry.”
The return? Brand advocates.
According to Cottrill, Converse’s Facebook page has grown tremendously over the past few years because they haven’t tried to hook and bait people. “Virtually everyone that’s come [into the studio]… is posting on Instagram, on Facebook, talking to their social media network, their fan base, about this great experience that they’ve had,” explains Cottrill. Now at over 34 million fans, Converse never asks anyone to “Like” a page. It simply adds content and value to the conversations. And Fans consistently respond favorably towards the brand. “We couldn’t be any more pleased with the results. Again I go back to the relationships that we’re creating there.”
Interested in hearing more? Listen to George Cottrill’s approach to strengthening relationships with consumers by checking out PJA’s The Unconventionals.
Subscribe on iTunes for more “unconventional” podcasts such as: Relay Rides, Big Ass Fans, IdeaPaint, & Dollar Shave Club.
BY ALLIE ABODEELY