Timberland’s Ever-Guard campaign measures up to competition

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When Timberland Co., a manufacturer of footwear, apparel and accessories, launched its Timberland Pro line of work boots in 1999, it entered a category in which competitors had existed for as long as 100 years. To differentiate itself from such established players, the company has focused on innovations that make its boots more comfortable and durable. Last year, it introduced its Ever-Guard leather upper, an enhanced waterproof leather that is heat resistant up to 346 degrees and provides 10 times more abrasion resistance than regular leather.

"Innovation is the focal point of what we do," said Jim O'Connor, director of marketing for the Timberland Pro line. "Everything is about what else we can do that's not currently being done to deliver on consumer need."

To tell the story of that innovation, Timberland Pro turned to its ad agency, Boston-based Winsper, to design a creative platform on which it could roll out different products, O'Connor said.

Winsper developed a brand strategy around the idea that Timberland Pro gives workers the most advanced "tools" for their feet—a platform that speaks to the construction vertical, which is key for Timberland, but that can also apply to other verticals.

After considering the audience, the agency came up with the tagline "Measure up."

"What we know about the target is that the younger guys look up to older guys, and there's a desire to fit in with regard to your job performance and with regard to what kind of equipment you use," said Caroline Bishop, director of client services at Winsper. "What the target needs in the construction world is a boot that stands up to anything," she said.

The resulting campaign included print ads, out-of-home ads, point of sale materials and sales support tools. Print ads ran in construction industry publications such as Builder, Handy, Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler and Tools of the Trade, as well as safety publications including Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, Occupational Hazards and Safety & Health. Ads also ran in consumer magazines covering topics of interest to the target audience, including Muscle & Fitness and Popular Mechanics.

The campaign featured heavy out-of-home placement with billboards along key highways, Bishop said, to drive traffic to retailers that sell Timberland Pro.

The ads had to communicate authenticity, a core attribute of the parent Timberland brand, said JD Norman, VP-brand strategist at Winsper. "It's not sugarcoating things; it's not being unrealistic. It's saying, `You're hardworking professionals and you use specialized tools for what you need."

Print ads include imagery of workers doing tough work and feature the product heavily.

O'Connor did not disclose specific results but said the Ever-Guard family of products is now Timberland Pro's third-best-selling line, and the company will continue to put significant media dollars behind it. "For a product in our category that's only been out for a year, it's gaining in sales—so it means a lot to us."

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