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In 2017 while I was Creative Director at SOCIALDEVIANT, I had the great fortune of working an iconic American brand—Red Wing Shoes. Early that year, Red Wing asked us to:

  • Raise awareness of their work boots among Millennial tradesmen
  • Create an authentic connection between their brand and the next generation of American workers
  • Drive purchase intent of the new generation at Red Wing retail stores

At the time, I had been on the brand for a little bit and knew they were sitting on a MOUNTAIN of GOLD.  Here is how we mined it.

  MINING GOLD?  In 2016, I had developed a campaign and content hub for Red Wing asking workers how, despite difficulties and differences on the worksite, that they kept America Working and to submit a picture of their boots “on the job.”  We got some great shots of workers’ boots climbing dizzying heights and trudging through hellacious muck, and, that was good.  However, we also got epic, heartfelt tomes of grit,   harrowing stories of near death and dismemberment, and most of all, a common theme of working through adversity every day to provide for your family.  Through it all, their Red Wings helped them get the job done right, and, were not viewed as just another tool but as more of a trusted partner.   For some, over many years, their boots had become a part of them.  Reading accounts of workers, "retiring" a pair of boots after many years of service was as if they were giving a speech at a good friend's wake.  I'm not doing it justice.  You just have to read them.   More importantly, Millennial tradesmen needed to have this wisdom passed down to them. 

MINING GOLD?
In 2016, I had developed a campaign and content hub for Red Wing asking workers how, despite difficulties and differences on the worksite, that they kept America Working and to submit a picture of their boots “on the job.”  We got some great shots of workers’ boots climbing dizzying heights and trudging through hellacious muck, and, that was good.  However, we also got epic, heartfelt tomes of grit, harrowing stories of near death and dismemberment, and most of all, a common theme of working through adversity every day to provide for your family.  Through it all, their Red Wings helped them get the job done right, and, were not viewed as just another tool but as more of a trusted partner.   For some, over many years, their boots had become a part of them.  Reading accounts of workers, "retiring" a pair of boots after many years of service was as if they were giving a speech at a good friend's wake.  I'm not doing it justice.  You just have to read them.  More importantly, Millennial tradesmen needed to have this wisdom passed down to them. 

 OK, so Red Wing owned countless stories of experienced tradesman who had been through hell and back in their boots and how their boots helped them get the job done every day?  They did.  And, young and inexperienced workers new to the trades needed guidance, experience and advice?  Yes, they definitely needed it, but more importantly they wanted it but were unsure how to get it.      AND! HERE IS THE THING—UNCERTAINTY CRAVES AUTHENTICITY   ("The highest value on the Millennial scorecard is authenticity" —The Boston Globe) .  And there is nothing more authentic than the accounts from real, experienced workers and the stories that their boots can tell.  With all of that as a foundation, I developed a concept to venerate and distribute the stories that we had on hand, as well as to collect and preserve new stories, in a monument dedicated to the American worker—  THE RED WING WALL of HONOR.   

OK, so Red Wing owned countless stories of experienced tradesman who had been through hell and back in their boots and how their boots helped them get the job done every day?  They did.  And, young and inexperienced workers new to the trades needed guidance, experience and advice?  Yes, they definitely needed it, but more importantly they wanted it but were unsure how to get it.  AND! HERE IS THE THING—UNCERTAINTY CRAVES AUTHENTICITY ("The highest value on the Millennial scorecard is authenticity" —The Boston Globe)And there is nothing more authentic than the accounts from real, experienced workers and the stories that their boots can tell.  With all of that as a foundation, I developed a concept to venerate and distribute the stories that we had on hand, as well as to collect and preserve new stories, in a monument dedicated to the American worker—THE RED WING WALL of HONOR.  

Rallying behind the hashtag #AmericaWorking, we asked men and women across the country to submit their most epic stories of work done in their Red Wing boots. Our integrated communication approach included paid and organic social content, signage in more than 500 retail stores across the country, brand ambassador forums, as well as email distribution. 

The Red Wing Wall of Honor campaign had 3 major components:

  • Encouragement of epic story submission via social and retail presence as well as on the America Working site
  • Collection, display, and distribution all of these stories via social, email, and the America Working site
  • With Red Wing Shoe employee participation (from the CEO to men and women on the factory floor!), selection of the most epic stories to be represented by the workers' worn boots on the physical Wall of Honor in Red Wing's flagship store in Red Wing, Minnesota (coming March 2018).
    • The Wall of Honor experience will also be replicated digitally for global distribution
 The first year of the campaign (given its success, Red Wing has indicated that this is something that they intend to make a yearly part of their company) will culminate in an "inaugural class" of thirty-three men and women's epic stories and boots to be venerated at Red Wing’s flagship store on the  Red Wing Wall of Honor,  as well as have a digital wall for global distribution via the web.

The first year of the campaign (given its success, Red Wing has indicated that this is something that they intend to make a yearly part of their company) will culminate in an "inaugural class" of thirty-three men and women's epic stories and boots to be venerated at Red Wing’s flagship store on the Red Wing Wall of Honor, as well as have a digital wall for global distribution via the web.

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The results absolutely blew away the benchmarks that we had for this campaign:

The Red Wing Wall of Honor will be unveiled in March of 2018 in Red Wing Minnesota and, given its success, will become an annual campaign as new inductees to the Wall of Honor are selected each year to for the Wall.  To use a Red Wing phrase, this campaign, "got the job done right."