Mr. Armato caught up with CMO Strategy to discuss more plans for
the year ahead.
Ad Age: The toning-shoe category has gotten
more competitive and more scrutinized. Earlier this month, Reebok
was taken to task by the Better Business Bureau's National
Advertising Division over misleading claims in its ads. How do you
make sure your messaging is accurate yet still catchy?
Mr. Armato: We have a patented technology in
Shape-Ups, our kinetic-wedge technology that provides a simulated
walking-in-sand experience. Intuitively, you know it's going to
allow you to get more out of every step, which is our catchphrase.
We've had about 15,000 testimonials unsolicited from people who
have worn Skechers Shape-Ups, which speak for themselves.
Ad Age: Skechers also recently made a
successful, if controversial, debut in original kids' programming
last fall with Skechers Entertainment's "Zevo-3" series on
Nicktoons. How do you achieve marketing goals with that property
given the strict FCC guidelines on kids' TV?
Mr. Armato: With "Zevo-3," we're just looking
to create a standalone property, a compelling piece of content,
with all the different regulations in mind. We're making sure we're
following them and operating within the rules, but it's really
about the characters and the content and not trying to market
anything to anyone. Any show that has significant popularity
ultimately will become marketable on various levels.
Ad Age: Your other big play for the kids'
audience, Twinkle Toes sneakers, debuted to promising sales last
year and seems to be a big priority for 2011 -- you recently
announced an upcoming Happy Meal partnership with McDonald's. What
was the market opportunity in entering the kids' space?
Mr. Armato: Little girls love things that
sparkle, so this is an opportunity to capture their imagination
with a product that looks expensive and is reasonably priced. ...
It's a significant piece of business and one we hope to continue to
maintain and grow.
Ad Age: Skechers has yet to hire a formal
agency of record. Why has going it alone been the right approach
for the company, from a marketing perspective?
Mr. Armato: We usually develop our marketing
strategies internally because we are intimately familiar with the
Skechers brand and all the unique value propositions associated
with products that we develop. We have an in-house advertising and
graphics department, under the direction of Jason Greenberg, that
creates imagery for Skechers. We can always draw from that in-house
Ad Age: With all these different products and
target audiences, it seems like Skechers is trying to be all things
to all people. Can a shoe company do that these days?
Mr. Armato:It's really a question of messaging
to the different targets and how you do that most effectively. When
we reach out to Twinkle Toes customers, they're probably not aware
that we're marketing to others about athletic footwear, and when
we're building a Shape-Ups campaign, we're talking to a different
consumer and have to speak with them in a way that's different and
engaging. One thing that's exciting is that Skechers has generated
a lot of trust in the minds of consumers because we've delivered on
the promise to build footwear that is effective for the purpose
Ad Age: What's the biggest mistake you've
learned from as a marketer?
Mr. Armato The biggest mistake is not to make enough little
mistakes. I'd like to try more things and be more innovative but
with all the new ways of reaching people and the demands upon all
of us marketers, it is very challenging to keep up with all the
engagement techniques and identify the ones to employ. ... Another
mistake any true marketer or entrepreneur can make is not to follow
your instincts and fight hard enough when you believe in something.
It's easy to back down in the face of contrary opinion --
especially if you are expressing a minority or unfamiliar
viewpoint. Any marketer or entrepreneur has to be willing to put
their neck on the line for what they believe in. It's not a job for