Geppetto builds on sneaker superhero equity

Marketers: Kids Foot Locker, New York-Lauren Bristow, advertising director; Stacy Cunningham, senior VP of marketing; Matthew Sudock, VP and retail brand director...
August 1, 2001

Marketers: Kids Foot Locker, New York-Lauren Bristow, advertising director; Stacy Cunningham, senior VP of marketing; Matthew Sudock, VP and retail brand director

adidas America, Oregon-Kasey Collins, retail account manager; Blaine Perrin, director of retail account marketing; Pascha Naderi-Nejad, kids category manager

Agency: The Geppetto Group, New York-Chris McKee, creative director; Steve Ingkavet and Pete Bregman, art directors/copywriters; Brian Weston, account supervisor; Lisa Connolly, producer

Market: U.S.

The idea: Featuring original character Captain Velocity in his second spot for Kids Foot Locker and adidas, Geppetto’s goals were to expand the running shoe superhero’s dimension and better relate the speed associated with both character and product.

The campaign: A 30-second spot airs from August 6 to August 20 on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Fox Kids Network. In-store support consisting of creative displays for the adidas Meteorite, a new shoe based on the Captain Velocity character, will come into play at all 400 Kids Foot Locker stores in the U.S. for back to school 2001.

The strategy:

Geppetto, Kids Foot Locker and adidas scored a direct hit when they introduced Captain Velocity in last August’s ‘Superhero’ commercial for kids six to 11. Touting the adidas Harmony running shoe at Kids Foot Locker stores, the ad triggered a 692% sales increase for the sneaker one week after its on-air debut.

Wanting to test the concept’s staying power, in May 2001 (a full nine months later), Geppetto conducted an informal, qualitative study asking six- to eight-year-olds what they remembered about ‘Superhero.’ Kids were shown the Captain Velocity helmet, and without any verbal guidance from the researchers ‘two or three kids immediately started repeating lines from the spot, such as, `I’m on my way!” says Brian Weston, account supervisor at The Geppetto Group. ‘Another kid asked, `Is that the commercial where. . . ,’ and began retelling the story of the spot.’

Based on kid reaction, the agency realized the character had genuine equity and decided to further develop Captain Velocity and his relation to the shoes.

adidas had never directly advertised to kids before ‘Superhero,’ which showed the champion getting off to a rather slow start-waking up groggy, shuffling down to breakfast in his fuzzy slippers and getting hit in the head with a newspaper thrown by the delivery boy. But when he hears the cry for help, Captain Velocity throws on his Harmony running shoes and zooms down the street to the rescue.

‘The first spot introduced him in a behind-the-scenes kind of way,’ says creative director Chris McKee. ‘Now that kids know that Captain Velocity is a hyper-driven superhero who also has a comedic sensibility, we wanted to branch out and give him a little more dimension.’ McKee adds that the agency held onto an important element from the first spot-the comedy.

Featuring adidas’ new Meteorite running shoe, ‘Bad Guys’ opens up in a police station filled with a bunch of wacky-looking criminals with long and inexplicably windblown hair. The spot follows the disheveled baddies from the fingerprinting area, to the mug shot room, to the holding cell. Against a loud audio track that sounds like a blaring jet rocket, the camera hones in on the Meteorites worn by the superhero as he zooms into the station at hyperspeed and screeches to a stop on the tile floor. When the camera pulls up, it’s Captain Velocity with yet another windswept crook in his arms. He releases the bad guy and races out the door again.

‘It puts a comedic spin on superhero capabilities, and it’s product-related because he moves so fast,’ says McKee. The message, obviously, is that if you wear Meteorites, you’ll be as fast as Captain Velocity.

adidas has also leveraged the Captain’s equity by designing the Meteorite running shoe to reflect the character. This year’s sneaker and an accompanying apparel line borrow colors and metallic material applications from Captain Velocity’s blue and silver suit. ‘We really wanted to create a product for young consumers that’s inspired by superheroes they can relate to,’ says Pascha Naderi-Nejad, kids category manager for adidas America.

adidas and Geppetto were discussing future Captain Velocity strategies at press time, and plans may call for the creation of a whole supporting cast of superheroes.

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