Converse Is Using Nike Tech to Make Chucks More Comfortable
Converse is infusing its signature Chuck Taylor All-Star shoe with Nike technology to create a more comfortable and durable sneaker in the line's first major revamp in nearly 100 years.
The Chuck Taylor All Star II, hitting stores on July 28, looks like the original but features Nike's Lunarlon cushion with arch support, a padded, non-slip tongue, a higher-quality canvas exterior and other enhancements.
"It's a really modern-day version of a Chuck Taylor," said Geoff Cottrill, VP-general manager of brand and segment at Converse. "We've kept the core DNA of the original and added some Nike technology ... to offer a more comfortable experience."
The second-generation Chuck Taylors represent Nike-owned Converse's biggest collaboration with its parent company to date. Mr. Cottrill, who will be speaking at Ad Age's Small Agency Conference next week in Boston, said the brand may start working with Nike more often in order to advance its footwear.
"They're this unbelievable parent company," said Mr. Cottrill. "We're absolutely partnering with them to look at what technology they have that we can use and what technology we can develop together over time."
Converse has paired with Nike in the past as well. The Cons skateboarding shoe has the same cushioning as the Chuck II and the Jack Purnell Signature sneaker features Nike Zoom Air cushioning.
In store, Converse will highlight the Chuck II's new technology and other core product features to set it apart from its predecessor, a spokeswoman for Converse said. The original Chuck will still be available.
But the brand will not push the technology or its relationship with Nike in its advertising, Mr. Cottrill said. He wants to continue building on Converse's legacy as a tool for self-expression and creativity, allowing the brand to stand on its own rather than as a Nike subsidiary.
"As the world changes and consumers demand more, we're going to rise to meet their needs," said Mr. Cottrill. "We built this for consumers to continue doing what they do with Chucks and just do more of it. We very much see this being consistent with the 'Made by You' campaign," he said, referring to a push that debuted earlier this year to celebrate customers who customize their Chucks.
The footwear brand began teasing the Chuck II last week with a new campaign called "Ready for More," out of creative shop Anomaly. The campaign is running in print, digital, out-of-home and in-store. It will ramp up on July 28, when the shoe is released in all major markets, marking the company's first coordinated global launch.
"It's the first time we really consciously updated the product," said Mr. Cottrill. "We're getting behind it in a big way from a media, digital, print, out-of-home and in-store perspective."
Converse will focus on promoting the second-generation sneaker into next year, Mr. Cottrill said, declining to comment on the budget for the push. "Ready for More" will run alongside the "Made By You" campaign for the original Chuck Taylors.
Converse spent $6.9 million on U.S. measured-media in 2014, up from $5.4 million the previous year, according to Kantar Media. This year, the company spent more than $3.7 million through April.
The Chuck II was inspired by customers' busy lifestyles. Last year, three members of the Converse business development team spent two weeks in the back of a van with London-based rock band Zoax during their tour. They acted as roadies, helped the band set up for shows and got feedback on the classic Chucks. Being on the road showed Converse that consumers wanted a more comfortable, durable shoe.
Converse plans to continue this hands-on testing. The team later rejoined Zoax on tour to try out the Chuck II. Converse's three Rubber Tracks recording studios -- located in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Brooklyn, N.Y. and Boston, Mass. -- also allow the brand to hear from real customers on a daily basis.