Famous Footwear Succeeds With Online 'Ice-Cream Truck' Effort

'Flavorful' Microsite Appeals to Everywoman With Good Humor

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Last week, we looked at the Famous Footwear campaign. This week, for a little change of pace, we shall look at the Famous Footwear campaign.

A different one.

The first one, from Campbell-Mithun, Minneapolis, is kind of terrible in ways we were rather brutal in documenting a week ago. To briefly recap, it is a handsomely wrapped box of nothing, a generic expression of giddy optimism built awkwardly around the word "famous" but otherwise no more applicable to shoes than any other category.

Title: maketodayunexpected.com
Marketer: Famous Footwear
Agency: Sigma Advertising, Oradell, N.J.
For Famous Footwear's microsite, the premise is the well-established notion that, for many women, shoes hold a certain fetishistic allure.
It's pretty enough, but could just as easily have been for deodorant or motorcycles or fish sticks.

There is also a social-media element to the campaign, which aims to invite the audience/prospect into a community of shoe-wearers by soliciting videos on how they will make their day "famous." Oy vey. Suffice to say, this RFP has not exactly ignited a mob.

But wait. That isn't Famous Footwear's only online initiative. Somewhere in a parallel dimension of cyberspace resides a separate digital campaign -- this one from Sigma Advertising, Oradell, N.J. (a mere stone's throw from Paramus, where, for 11 brief months in 1969-70 resided the 15-year-old AdReview!). Anyway, this work is good.

The premise is the well-established notion that, for many women, shoes hold a certain fetishistic allure. It's a stereotype, yes, but stereotypes don't come from nothing, and it was certainly resonant enough to propel about a quizillion episodes of "Sex and the City." For this powerful, semi-irrational impulse, Sigma alighted on a cute analogy: the ice-cream truck.

You know the picture: The truck rolls through the neighborhood like the Pied Piper, ringing its haunting chimes or bells or calliope, and the kids appear from everywhere to follow it. So what if it weren't an ice-cream truck but a Famous Footwear truck?

Well, the microsite -- maketodayunexpected.com -- is built around a Famous Footwear truck. It's got pictures of the flavors, a la Good Humor. It's got a driver in a white outfit and cap. It's got an endlessly repeating, music-box chime. And it's got videos with a whole lot more zing than the TV commercials.

One shows women hearing the chimes and being impelled, in a sort of "Close Encounters" way, to stop whatever they're doing and run for shoes. It's pretty funny. Here an idle vacuum cleaner, still running. There a wind-up baby swing seen from the rear, swinging back and forth in the living room unattended, and an infant wailing because mommy has suddenly disappeared. Eventually we see the women crowding around the truck, squealing over new shoes. Fabulous.

"Now just hold on there for a minute, smart guy," perhaps you are thinking. "Why would women respond to advertising that represents them as hysterical, possessed, child-abandoning cartoon characters? Isn't it better to show them in a positive light, succeeding in all walks of life and still getting satisfaction at feeling pretty and stylish and shoe-empowered?"

Permit us to field the second question first. The answer is: no.

Because the women in the main campaign are idealized and plastic and insipid -- whereas the cartoonishly possessed squealers in Sigma's version are comic exaggerations of Everywoman, far more real than the fashion models dancing on tables courtesy of Campbell-Mithun. Thus the answer to the first question: Women will respond because the spots are funny, and they are funny because they are hyperbolic but recognizable depictions of the irrational shoe-obsession that afflicts so many in the uterus demographic.

In short, the ice-cream truck microsite is about something. The "Make Today Famous" campaign is about nothing. If we were the client, we'd consider an about face.

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