Media: Strategy Analysis - Vagabond takes journey of discovery

Brand/client: Vagabond Brief: Connect the "soul" of Vagabond with the London fashion trade Target audience: Thirtysomething urban professionals, London fashion trade Budget: £100,000 AGENCIES Media: Vizeum Creative: Vagabond/Time Out PR: Iroquois


Vagabond, a Swedish shoe brand, has enjoyed massive success in the Nordics since it was established in the 60s. Vagabond became an international brand in the 90s and sells more than 1.3 million pairs of shoes in more than 30 countries. In August 2005, Vagabond took the decision to invest £100,000 to build confidence in the brand among urban consumers and the fashion business during London's trade shows.

The brief was simply to raise awareness of Vagabond and create a point of difference for the brand by creating a connection with "the soul of Vagabond" described as: "Vagabond is an adventurous person, always on the move and often found at the heart of the big city. True to the name, Vagabond crosses boundaries, physical as well as cultural."

To increase trade confidence, it was important to communicate directly with the trade while at the same time creating the impression the brand is increasing its profile among consumer audiences, particularly thirtysomething urban professionals.

The strategy was designed to connect "the soul of Vagabond" with the growing desire the target audience had for discovery and authenticity.

If communicated in the right way, Vizeum felt that Vagabond could be positioned as a brand that satisfied this consumer need - a need it articulated as "real discovery".


On such a small budget, Vizeum needed to think hard about how it could build a campaign around the central idea of real discovery that would work seamlessly through all communications. It needed an idea that would carry the campaign beyond the execution and into people's behaviour.

- Press: Vizeum approached Time Out and commissioned it to create a guide to "Walking Undiscovered London". It contained six London walks around the themes urban, open and historic. The guide tuned in to the audience's need for discovery and provided Vagabond with a central role in enabling it. The partnership with Time Out delivered a no-wastage solution for the urban professionals audience in a magazine that is synonymous with bringing out the best of London.

- Ambient: As well as being distributed in Time Out, the guide was given out in bars, clubs, restaurants and galleries to ensure it got into the hands of the right people.

To build broader consumer profile and showcase Vagabond as a serious player to the trade, an ad campaign ran in style press and fashion supplements including titles such as Elle, Arena, Guardian Weekend and Dazed & Confused.

The advertising amplified the central idea of "real discovery" by showing young people out-and-about in urban settings.

- Events: The Time Out guide also provided the inspiration to create a launch party for the fashion trade and deliver a brand experience that demonstrated the brand's relevance to the UK audience. The trade was invited by Vagabond to "explore, experience and celebrate walking undiscovered London". The experience brought the guide to life and provided a memorable evening, with DJs, cocktails and canapes.


The campaign had an immediate impact on Vagabond's brand profile and drove consumer and trade interest.

THE VERDICT - Richard Hartell planning director, Starcom Mediavest

On the rare occasion that I walk for pleasure, I might use a guide. Guides are good. They give people options on where they could go and what they might see. But ultimately you still have to make some choices about which way to go.

That's the problem with this campaign - it doesn't make enough choices and consequently gets a bit lost. The strategy recognises the need to grow confidence with the trade. So that could send you down an "overheard conversation" path - let the trade think they are listening in to a bigger conversation with consumers. But if you do this you have to be single-minded - don't start thinking you are really talking to consumers and make sure the trade do actually overhear.

For consumers, the idea of creating content that brings to life the brand's positioning around discovery also sounds good. You can see how the agency then got to "walking undiscovered London"and it's potentially a big, brave idea. "Urban exploring" sounds smart as consumer territory. But was this right for the trade?

For the execution, both Time Out and bars and clubs are right for reaching the consumer audience and Time Out has bags of credibility on London and walking. Not sure about the relationship between walking and clubbing though. I've always got a cab home and certainly not been in any frame of mind for a spot of late night rambling (not intentionally anyway).

And what did the trade see of the guide? The style magazines felt more like a mandatory inclusion more than anything else. They are standard for reaching a fashion-led audience but seem unrelated to the strategy.

Then for the trade they created a party to get them to experience the "soul of Vagabond". Using the content created with Time Out makes sense but I cannot help feeling that delivering this indoors with DJs, canapes and cocktails is missing a trick. Why not take them on a walk around London with a bit of theatre en route that showcases the shoes - create some interaction, allowing some real brand discovery?

Overall, this all started out with great intention but, without any clear direction, it began to wander, got lost and ultimately found itself in bar with a fancy cocktail. Not a disaster but not the best use of the opportunity either.

SCORE: 2 out of 5.

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