- Vans unveiled its 2023 global brand campaign, the first fruit born from a new “brand foundation” that encourages self-discovery through creativity, per details shared with Marketing Dive.
- “This is Off the Wall” enlists ambassadors from a variety of backgrounds, including sports, music, fashion and art, and depicts them in colorful but distorted ways. Beatrice Domond, Felipe Nunes, Irene Kim, Cocona Hiraki, Little Simz, Arthur Bray and Salome Agbaroji are among its partners.
- Vans is also introducing a Knu Skool model that offers a modern take on its ‘90s low-top sneakers, with an oversized design. The revamped creative approach and product additions come as the company tries to reignite sales following recent business challenges.
Vans is enacting the next step of its turnaround plan with a global marketing campaign that encourages people to look inward to find their authentic selves. The reflective themes intend to recognize a change in consumer thinking brought about during the pandemic years, when many reevaluated their priorities.
“During the pandemic, consumers’ idea of creative expression shifted away from ‘this thing that you do for external validation’ toward a journey of self-discovery,” said Carly Gomez, Vans’ vice president of global brand management, in a press statement.
The refreshed positioning, or “brand foundation,” uses the muse of a “creative voyager.” That concept is embodied in an ambassador roster that features Vans Skate team athletes Felipe Nunes and Beatrice Domond, Ireneisgood founder Irene Kim and musician Little Simz, among others. Ads depict these subjects in blurry, colorful portraits that capture a sense of movement and dynamism.
On the product end, Vans is jumping on renewed interest in ‘90s and Y2K apparel with the Knu Skool shoe drop. The model aims to put a fresh spin on skate shoes from decades past and aligns with a larger trend toward chunky footwear.
“This is Off The Wall” follows a period of slumping sales for VF Corp.-owned Vans. Prior to the pandemic, the brand consistently notched double-digit growth, according to Business of Fashion (BoF). But sales were down 13% toward the tail end of 2022, a period marked by sharp inflation and stiffer competition from rivals like Nike. Vans is now working to streamline its marketing strategy and product assortment, while also bringing new styles to market, per BoF.
On the marketing front, Vans has said it is looking for more buzzy collaboration opportunities, a potential appeal to the hypebeast and sneakerhead crowds. But it’s also rolled out sneakers that provide better comfort, such as a ComfyCush line first released in 2019, as it tries to reach a wider range of consumers. Much of Vans’ brand vision was previously overseen by marketing chief Kristin Harrer, who joined VF Corp. from Dollar Shave Club in 2021. She has since left the company, a spokesperson said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed Vans’ current marketing strategy to former CMO Kristin Harrer. She is no longer with the company.