Storytelling, being willing to take risks and personalizing touch points in the consumer journey were among the key topics discussed in a conversation between TJ Papp, vice president, consumer director at Kenneth Cole Productions, and Jack Riker, director, client partnerships at BounceX.
From Kenneth Cole Productions’ earliest days of starting the brand out of a 30-foot trailer parked in front of the footwear trade show, Kenneth Cole has always liked to tell the story of the culture of the company.
For the last 35 years, he has sought to make a meaningful impact with a focus on public health (HIV and AIDS, as well as Haiti) and civil liberties. From a civil liberties perspective, Cole has focused on such issues as equality, civic engagement and homelessness. “It’s something that never diminished and that we try to bring digitally to the marketplace,” Papp said.
Kenneth Cole is a value-based brand that’s created a vision around New York City style and social consciousness, Papp said.
Riker said that when one talks about a brand, one discusses the values behind that brand, and he asked Papp how Kenneth Cole uses those values to get the message out.
“We’re really clear on our value structure. And that value structure allows consumers to understand that they want to participate in our brand ethos. That value structure is extended through really interesting collaborations, and a long strategic view of what we want our brand to stand for and how we want our brand to evolve,” Papp said.
They view collaborations through a nonprofit perspective and work with U.N. Foundation, H.E.L.P. USA and NAMI for mental health, he said. One of its most successful campaigns was with Pride and was called “Tied for Pride.”
Papp played a video with a diverse cast of trans, gay, bisexual and nonbinary people. The video had about 6.1 million impressions and earned 338,000 new backlinks. This was the company’s most successful social media campaign and won the BrightEdge 2018 Edgie award for seo program for the year.
“The way we tell a campaign like this is really through a digital first philosophy,” Papp said. For years, Kenneth Cole created print ads and had a billboard on the West Side, which it no longer has. The company now has a 100 percent digital strategy. “We partnered and collaborated across that ecosystem to drive people into our site and into our ecosystem so we can learn more about them,” Papp said.
This year, Kenneth Cole is partnering with the Broadway show, “Prom.” Cast members wear some of the brand’s footwear on stage. “It’s a real powerful message that I think resonates with our culture right now,” Papp said. Cole is also offering a T-shirt where proceeds go to the Kenneth Cole Foundation and U.N. Foundation as well.
Papp said its technology partner, BounceX, enables Cole to transform its web traffic by serving content tailored to different consumer segments. When consumers convert, the two companies work in tandem to deliver strategies that drive a lifelong brand and product journey that elevates, inspires and keeps consumers coming back towards the most valuable experiences possible.
Papp said it’s imperative to know the customer better so they can focus on executing three key consumer pillars: attract, engage and connect; align on amplifying key brand and product moments, and personalize every touch point in the consumer journey.