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Interview: Barney Waters, Vice-President of Marketing at Palladium Boots
Dienstag, Feb. 15, 2011, 10:31 / France
Palladium was founded in 1920 to make tyres for the fledgling aviation industry. Following the Second World War demand for these decreased dramatically, and so the French company started producing shoes near Lyon, France. In 1947, the legendary Pampa boot was born, and the boots’ attributes were so outstanding that the French Foreign Legion adopted them. From the 1980s until the late 1990s they became a fashion item, and the French footwear brand has appeared on the fashion map ever since. Following the takeover from American sneaker company K-Swiss in July 2009, Palladium is celebrating a renaissance. Barney Waters, Vice President of Marketing, told us how Palladium refreshed their old heritage by collaborating with Neil Barrett and Stussy, and what he thinks about new developments in online business.
What are the major changes at Palladium since K-Swiss took over?
K-Swiss bought the brand to revive the classic Pampa boot, so the design of the actual boot remains unchanged since 1947. However, new life has been injected into the range through the use of premium materials, and better manufacturing has improved comfort. The other major change is that we have invested in a ground-up rebranding effort to take this heritage brand and make it relevant again.
Did you create a new strategy in association with this heritage?
Having heritage is such an asset, and gives the brand credibility and authenticity, which are critical. So yes, we always talk about where the brand came from to establish our authenticity. However, I didn’t want the brand to be a museum, which is why we created a modern branding position around urban exploring.
A novelty is your collaborations with progressive labels and designers. What do you expect from this?
It’s no secret that collaborating with other designers and brands is creating awareness, attention and energy for the participating brands. We’re lucky enough to have a strong history so other brands remember us, and want to work with us.
In the past Palladium collaborated with British designer Neil Barrett and streetwear classic Stussy. What is the outcome of these collaborations?
Collaborations add elasticity to your brand by taking them to retailers and customers you wouldn’t necessarily reach yourself. Also, having an independent eye on your product allows for a new perspective, and they often see possibilities and angles you didn’t see yourself. If you pick the right partners they will bring a whole new aesthetic to the table.
Neil Barrett is a great match for us and he takes us into luxury distribution that we hadn’t been focused on. It exposes us to a new customer, and we do the same for the Neil Barrett brand by allowing them more accessibility.
It was a no-brainer to work with a brand as legendary as Stussy, and I think what was special was a surf and skate brand applying their point of view to a heritage military brand. The result was something we wouldn’t have done ourselves, which is ultimately what you hope comes out of these projects.
Are there any further co-operations in planning?
We have a few in the pipeline. We created a one-off boot with Boston-based retailer Bodega, which was very successful. Next up is a boot with Mister Freedom, to be released in 2011. More details to come.
How important is online trading for you?
The fact is people shop online, so therefore online has to be a part of any distribution strategy. However, you still have to apply the same quality controls and be as selective as you would with brick-and-mortar retailers.
Do you make a distinction between traditional retail and online shopping?
Many of the same rules apply – you’re still trying to drive traffic, be a great merchandiser and convert traffic to a sale.
What’s your evaluation of the importance of social media for fashion businesses?
Well it’s really put the pressure on the marketer to step up their game in terms of how the brand message is delivered, it’s not a one-way street anymore. Previously brands just pushed their message to a captive audience staring at the television – now you have to rely on people tuning into you, and then to share what they find compelling with their friends. That means brand communication has to be really good and add some value, rather than just hammer you with a sales pitch. The number one traffic driver to our website from our recent Detroit Lives documentary campaign release was social media.
What is Palladium’s strategy concerning online marketing and social media in the future?
We’re a content-first brand, meaning we go on explorations and film them and that becomes our creative. We don’t shoot 2-D ad images in a studio. Our films are our brand communication and we deliver those through the web. So online marketing and social media become the most important elements of our media mix. A big piece of the puzzle is to create content that is shareable in the first place.
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Wolfgang Altmann | TribaSpace
Media, Sportswear, Other, PR, Shoes, Sales
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