A Lot of Cons to This Shoe Campaign

Is This the 'Converse Century?' Sid Vicious Will Never Be Able to Tell Us

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Songs for Soap has thus far resisted commenting on Converse's new "Connectivity" campaign, which is set to feature M.I.A., Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day, the late Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division, among others. This has mostly been because there hasn't been much to go on; the release merely says that a lot of famous people have worn Converse over the past century and that they'll be featured in an outdoor, print and integrated campaign.
The late Sid Vicious modeling a pair of Chucks.
The late Sid Vicious modeling a pair of Chucks.
We were hoping more details would surface before we expressed our disapproval, but since so many blogs are picking up on it, we relented.

Our First question: Is it wise for Converse to stake a flag in a century of American culture and claim it for themselves? Has it really been "the Converse Century?" If we're talking about athletes, one could easily make a claim that the shoe offered some functional benefits and had an impact on the game of basketball. But a parade of rock stars wearing the shoes is not a convincing argument that Converse played some role or their kicks contain some bit of essential rock mojo.

How about this instead: Chuck Taylor All-Stars are cheap and match almost anything. Those are qualities that appeal to everyone, from me to MIA.

Our Second question: Is it wise for a brand to dig up dead celebrities for posthumous endorsements? I'm not saying the company or its agency, Anomaly, didn't get permission from Ian Curtis's estate, but this smacks of opportunism even if it isn't intended to be. We're not just talking about licensing "Love Will Tear Us Apart," this is using the actual person Ian Curtis, who lived, breathed, suffered and took his own life. It's a tacky move and should offend anyone who respects his work.

What's lacking in this campaign is humility. Converse has every right to be proud that so many influential people have worn their shoes and every right to highlight this fact. But coupled with some revisionist history, the result feels like a giant corporate hand getting grease stains all over our record collections. Instead of cultural ownership, Converse should have stressed participation.

Maybe once we see more of the executions -- there are some grabs out there -- we'll change our minds.

[Via press release]