History of Converse

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Raffles College of Design and Commerce
Strategic Brand Management

Born in Basketball, raised by Rock and Roll
Converse – A case study

Nailton Oliveira
114MDA3530

April, 2012

INTRODUCTION
Branding is, in fact, in the spot these days. They are everywhere. Brands decide where economy or fashion goes. Brands gives names to new actions, make the world even more global and are synonym of power. Knowing how to create a reputation of the company with accurate strategies and acknowledging the risks of it, can bring fame and success. It is part of a company’s capital and because of that it needs smart and strategic management so it can generate profits. Converse has an interesting example of strategic brand management. Converse started small, as a shoe company in 1908, USA. With more than 100 years of existence, Converse went from a rubber manufacturer (they even produced tires in the beginning) to an icon of self-expression, originality and independency. The brand grew this image reaching the right public in the right time. Starting with the Chuck Taylor All Star and aiming on the basketball, Converse passed to a manufacturer of military products during the war. Later, with the born of Rock and Roll, it became the symbol that holds until the present days. Converse knew how to fight the competitors, to get out of bankrupts and to sustain it name with a strong design and adaptable performance to it public. Moreover, all of that was made with little effort, in a way that the brand achieved the level of awareness that dispensed advertising. Converse registered in 2011 more than 8 million of fans on Facebook (more than Nike and Adidas, main competitors) and when Geoff Cottrill, Converse’s chief marketing officer, was asked what the brand did, he replied: “Nothing!” THE COMPANY

History of Converse
The history of Converse dated from more than 100 years. In 1908, in Malden, Massachusetts, Marquis M. Converse started a rubber shoe company, based on the premise that he will do business directly with the retail store, with no intermediate. The idea worked, and in 10 years the company grew fast. In 1917, Converse continued to increase: they started producing rubber shoes for basketball and when Chuck Taylor, famous player, got involved, the brand became known within the United States. Chuck Taylor was fundamental to the power of the brand (his name was added on the shoe later) and was trough him that the shoe got its first association: Converse was basketball shoes. Later to that, Converse had a period of management changes with ups and downs within the market. In 1933, “after providing protective footwear, special-purpose boots, parkas, and other equipment for the American Armed Services during World War II, the company concentrated on rapid growth in a civilian market.” Going forward 50 years, the shoe company faced the first problems of competition. Still being a strong brand for basketball shoes, Converse relied on a supposed deal with the popular player Michael Jordan, hoping that will launch the brand to an untouchable place in the market. However, Jordan seal the deal with Nike and on the late 1980’s Nike popularity soared around the USA and the world. Converse fell behind Nike and other sports brands. Kirk Wakefield, professor of Sports, Sponsorship and Sales at Baylor University said: “Converse lost its way when it did not shift as quickly as the industry. It's probably because they were originally more of a manufacturing company. They had that approach.” On the 1990’s, Converse struggled to stay strong in the market, appealing to the ‘retro’ style of the brand. The company injected large amount of money in advertising. The marketer planned to spend more than $50 million in 1995. The target was teenagers and the approach was the “hipster” idea of the shoes. Since they had practically lost the sports market, the approach of Chuck Taylor and Jack Purcell shoes as a casual style was a brawl to sustain, since the trend...
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