Converse Canvasses the Music Fests

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Digital agency Perfect Fools' new Amsterdam branch debuted work for its inaugural client, Converse, with a digital addition to the brand's "Connectivity" campaign. The shop created a social networking site aimed at music festival attendees, allowing them to create and manage their own free web pages and share their stories, images and videos from large-scale European fests like Roskilde and Melt that have partnered with Converse and its spokesperformers like Santogold.

According to Perfect Fools, Amsterdam ECD Mark Chalmers, the initial goal of this online tool was to emphasize Converse as a brand that's been globally involved in the music scene over the last 100 years. "We wanted to group their activity that exists around the world" he says. "They're a very honest brand in the way that the product says it all, so the last thing they're going to do is advertising. They communicate through doing rather than slapping on a proposition. So if we're going to partner and work with Converse, we've got to do something constructive. [They gave us] quite an interesting starting point to build on and make what they already do better. But how could we make all the music activity better for the fans of Converse and the fans of music? So we said we can group it all together."

PF utilized various assets that were already developed for the campaign on hand, including the Pharrell/Santogold/Julian Casablancas "My Drive Thru" song and TV/print elements that included other musicians, but the shop found the music fans themselves to be the final key in tying the online effort together. "We can recognize that these fans think, act, look and travel globally so we could unite their knowledge and all of the Converse activity from the market," says Chalmers. "Music fans travel and festival season was upon us and it was circumstantial that it became Converse's 'summer of music.' That was the first step."

With the summer festivals providing an ideal means to connectivity, Chalmers says the second step was to create a simple, useful tool around the events to bring together Converse and music fans. "It's actually not very complicated. We have to create and give things a value to intelligent, fun fans. One thing that's pretty straightforward is that people from all different countries come to festivals and they look forward to them. Our starting point was saying why don't we group it all and count down to those individual festivals. If you clicked on any of the events [on the site] they would count down. We created quite a nifty thing where you could download the tool as a live screensaver so it would count down [live on your desktop]."

Still, Chalmers notes that it helped to have the solid foundation created by Anomaly and Dutch agency Staat, the former of which conceived the Connectivity campaign. "We didn't start creating new stuff; we utilized the fantastic campaign that Anomaly and Converse had generated, which was [based on] connectivity, and we made it Connectivity 2.0 where you could track [things]. So instead of going out there as an agency saying alright, we're going to do this, create this and put our mark on stuff, we just gathered the great stuff that was out there—the established looks, identities and music activity like 'My Drive Thru'—and we just put it all together."

Chalmers believes the digital effort is a success because of its streamlined approach, aesthetic and functionality. "We just tried to be smart and not come from this world that a few brands fall into, where they try do social networking without any reason saying yeah, people will connect to us," he says. "People love their brands which is great, but some brands assume that people want to be associated with them. So we intentionally didn't try and make it this big, world dominator. This works because [Converse] is giving small groups of people their own unique URL and their own web page for them to [create] their own [content]. It's their gig and it's private. It's like giving everyone a little interactive notepad. We've also used existing social tools, so instead of hosting all the images that anyone has from a festival, they can just drop their links in there. They still continue to host their images on Flickr and they continue to host their films on YouTube."

While all the festivals highlighted on the site have elapsed as of this week, Chalmers says the social hub will live on to encourage ongoing communication between concert-goers. "It isn't going to go away. Converse's past is their present is their future. What they're very good at is having a consistent, ongoing, building dialogue. It's a journey where everyone's in it together."
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