Dockers Goes From Dad to Rad

Ad Strategy Veers Into Live Spots, Consumer-Created Commercials

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Dockers, the traditional men's brand, is embracing a decidedly untraditional advertising strategy.
Using Mixercast, consumers can create their own Dockers commercials that will be distributed on the web with a Mixercast widget, with the winning entry to air on 'The Tonight Show' this summer.
Using Mixercast, consumers can create their own Dockers commercials that will be distributed on the web with a Mixercast widget, with the winning entry to air on 'The Tonight Show' this summer.

Last night, the brand appeared in a live commercial during "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," still a relatively novel format for today's audiences. But, then, DraftFCB, San Francisco, the brand's agency of record, took the exposure one step further by using "The Tonight Show" to launch a contest in which consumers will be able to create their own Dockers commercials.

Christian Arens, DraftFCB's VP-director of digital strategy, said that early on in the planning stages the agency identified late-night properties as one of the core areas the brand would zero in on to target men. In discussions with various networks, NBC offered up the "livemercial." It was a good fit, Mr. Arens contends, noting that the concept enables the brand to more closely connect with consumers, as well as benefit from an association with Mr. Leno.

Beyond the comfort zone
"Linking off of that idea, we decided to look at [it] not only from a TV perspective but from an online perspective," he said. "This is sort of outside the comfort zone. ... But as audiences move more and more online, Dockers is looking at the online medium, just like many other brands, and trying to figure out what the play is."

Using a platform developed by Mixercast, consumers can use portions of the most recent Dockers commercial, including music and logos, as well as their own content to create a commercial. Those commercials will then be distributed throughout the web with a Mixercast widget. The winning entry will air on "The Tonight Show" this summer.

"It's so much more effective than clicking on a banner ad. ... They're uploading a video that they've created with the brand," said Jennifer Cooper, CEO of Mixercast. "It's a new methodology of social advertising."

While the brand is, to some extent, turning over control to consumers with the digital portion of the project, Mr. Arens said he worked closely with "The Tonight Show" on the live commercial. The brand was also given final approval on the pitch, delivered by announcer John Melendez. Mr. Melendez, clad in Dockers, stood in front of a screen showing humorous shots of him imposing on tourists around San Francisco, where the most recent Dockers commercial is set.

Hosts have new duties
Already, Messrs. Leno and Melendez have hawked GPS devices from Garmin International, while fellow NBC host Conan O'Brien has shilled for the Miller Chill brand. Earlier this month, ABC announced it would be adding live commercials to the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" lineup in May.

"You'll start to see it as a trend," said Mr. Arens, of the return of live commercials. "That's what we're starting to see on the media side."
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