Famous Footwear Makes a Misstep in Trying to Go Glam

Campbell-Mithun Effort Has Germ of an Idea but Seemingly No Understanding Why It Is Doomed

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Yikes. What do you get when you combine a banal and utterly generic media campaign that says absolutely nothing about your brand with a social-media element destined to generate no interest within ... whadyacallit ... society?

You get the Famous Footwear campaign from Campbell-Mithun, Minneapolis, an effort with a germ of an idea, very strong production values and seemingly no understanding of why it is empty -- and doomed -- in both the traditional realm and the digital one.

The germ of the idea is this: What if they could take the stupid brand name of the discount-shoe chain that isn't Payless and somehow give it at least a hint of cachet -- a tall order for a chain called Famous Footwear. Yeah, the "famous" refers to the famous-name brands sold therein, but it still comes off as one of those silly attempts to glamorize the, ahem, pedestrian.

Like the sandwich place in Ardmore, Pa., called Lunchmeat Villa. Or the beauty salon in Fort Lee, N.J.: Hair and Nail Expo. Or Vancouver, B.C.'s Salmon Village. Or any Carpet Palace anywhere. Or, for that matter, the product our own late father manufactured: Aristocrat paper plates. (We swear to God.)

So why not try to make the "famous" in Famous Footwear famous? That's the concept behind the "Make Today Famous" campaign. In old media and new, it contemplates ways to make every day a truly special one. Oops. Excuse us for a moment ...

There. We feel better now. Once you let go and puke it out, it's such a relief.

Anyway, the agency employed director Peggy Sirota to shoot various lovely montages of pretend normal-people carpe-ing their diems. There's a fashion model playfully jumping into a swimming pool fully clothed, there's two fashion models having a frisky feather-pillow fight, there's three fashion models in formal wear dancing on a dinner table, there's a lyrical, blonde fashion model playing guitar and twirling on the street, and a there's a glamorous momma fashion model dressed for the clubs bathing her (but probably someone else's) little boy.

Very uplifting. Only two problems: 1) The examples have nothing whatsoever to do with "famous" according to any definition of the word. 2) The montage could just as easily be for JCPenney, Tampax or Abilify, the anti-psychotic drug for those whose anti-depressants simply aren't doing the job.

That's the gist of the old-media campaign. Online, Famous Footwear asks us to consider ways in which we might make a given day "famous." They prime the pump with a montage of people offering suggestions like "by running in my first marathon," "I wanna be a ninja," "I would get my laundry done," "I'd grow five inches," "I'd do a tap dance for you" and so on. Perhaps you notice what all of these flights of fancy have in common:

They have nothing to do with fame.

This may explain why after three weeks of soliciting video uploads, Famous Footwear's site was overflowing on Friday with exactly three (3) ... that is, before the videos vanished from the site altogether. It was, they say, a temporary technical glitch, but no big deal either way. Without the videos handy, we'll all still get through the day famously.

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