When given a brand that's always been on top, where do you take it? Vans has done it all. All, except pay attention to the very culture they helped create. After extensively researching the brand's core audience, skaters, we uncovered a major shift: the once tight-knit skate culture is quickly crumbling due to a major divide. Rather than advertising to them, we had Vans show up to unify their core group under one message: United in Skate.
Background: Vans and skate culture grew up together.
In 1966, the Van Doren brothers founded Vans. Thanks to their background in the rubber industry, they brought a new shoe to Southern CA that stood out among the competition.
Thus, a beautiful relationship was born.
Skaters found Vans for their rubber soles and Vans found the skate community as a place the brand could call home. This happy accident helped name Vans America's skate shoe in the 70s, and the brand has only grown in popularity since, bringing along a once-tight-knit community with it.
Problem: There is a divide between two generations of skaters. A civil war
Skateboarding entered the Olympics in 2016, marking a complete divide in skate culture.
The pre-olympic OG skaters think skating has lost its edge, and the new-wave skaters think it should be taken seriously
Even the way they consume media is different. The OG’s remember having to wait for an
annual VHS to hit the stores, New-Wavers now can hop on Tiktok and go viral in mere moments.
Insight: Even though both sides hate each other, they both agree that Vans isn't doing enough for skaters.
"Vans will always need to champion the underground, core group of skaters if they want to continue talking to us authentically” -OG Skater
“Vans makes their money off of the ‘skater look’ and aren’t doing enough for skating. They’re really no different than Nike. - New Wave Skater
Advantage: No one knows skaters like Vans knows skaters. It's the only brand that can authentically reunite this once-close community.
Target: OG Skaters (Pre-2016) & New Wave Skaters (Post-2016)
Regardless of where they may fall in this "family feud," Skaters don't want to be advertised to. They all only want the support of a brand that will continue to champion the one thing they can all agree on: they just want to skate.
Strategy: Show, don't tell.
We'll demonstrate Vans' passion for skateboarding transcends differing opinions about the sport, aiming to get all skaters back on board.
Vans: United in Skate
We uncovered that Richmond, like many cities, has unofficial skate spots only known within the skate community. These easter-egg style postings with coordinates that lead to bespoke locations aim to communicate with the core audience without explicitly advertising to them. Speaking their language, if you will.
Additional print ads will be posted around these cities, all marked with a QR code will take them to Vans new landing page.
The best part? These spots have been protected by Vans, but give credit to past skaters who have paved the way for the community so skaters can continue to do what they love for many generations to come.
The landing page hosted on the Vans website communicates their acknowledgment of the "family divide" and provides map views to show local communities spots around the city where they can go skate, regardless of generation.