Converse Gets Creative Online

Converse has lately gotten serious about having fun on the Internet. First it debuted a series of bizarre microsites that found viral success and, now, it is launching a music-centered ad campaign that is taking over YouTube.

Visitors to the video sharing site today will be greeted by a new song, My Drive Thru, from artists Pharrell Williams, N.E.R.D., Santogold and Julian Casablancas, who were brought together by Converse under the name “Three Artists, One Song.” The North Andover, Mass-based company instructed them only to “produce a great piece of music” that it could use as the centerpiece of its new branding campaign, which stresses Converse’s heritage of creativity and its association with the music scene.

The campaign also features 30- and 60-second TV ads built around the song that started running yesterday on MTV, BET and the Cartoon Network, among other networks, and an outdoor campaign that will feature multimedia installations at bus stops and other transit locations in at least nine cities across the U.S. The shoes are featured in the campaign, but take a backseat to the artists and the music.

Converse had already become the subject of some peculiar Internet chatter these past few months with the quiet debut of a series of microsites showcasing the brand’s quirky identity. One of the most talked about is KissingWithRoss.com, a site that features the message “How to Kiss” and a bearded man in a trucker hat getting intimate with the camera for about 30 seconds. There is no audio and no interactive opportunities for viewers, just a small Converse logo at the bottom and the option of scrolling through to other, equally bizarre sites (such as KissingBackWithRoss.com, which is essentially the same video, but with icing).

“We’ve definitely upped our online presence, but we’ve completely done it Converse style and stayed true to the brand,” said Jonathan Finn, senior director of marketing communications at Converse, in an e-mail message. “Converse has a distinct personality and the brand is known for challenging the status quo. We love the opportunities that exist online and it’s perfect for the brand.”

Indications are the company is reaping returns for its efforts. The video for “My Drive Thru” was released July 9th on MySpace and YouTube, and has already been streamed nearly a million times globally, according to Finn. In its first day, it was ranked among the top 10 most shared videos on the Internet, according to viralvideochart.com.

Finn declined to share results regarding the KissingWithRoss.com sites, saying they were created as standalone efforts that were meant to speak for themselves.

“These sites are made for discovery and entertainment,” he said. “We’ve received feedback that Internet users are liking the approach and we’re thrilled.”

The sites were created by Converse agency Anomaly. Finn declined to comment on whether more sites were in the works.

“Digital is a key part of our marketing mix,” he said, “and we’re having a great time exploring all the possibilities that the media offers.

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