SBD/Issue 143/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Vans Marketing Strategy Lands On The Big Screen

As marketers are using documentaries to "promote their sneakers, records, books and other merchandise," CA-based Vans has financed "Dogtown and Z-Boys," a 90-minute documentary about the origins of skateboarding narrated by actor Sean Penn, according to Beth Pinsker of the N.Y. TIMES, who writes a sneakerless logo of the Vans Off the Wall production company appears in the opening credits, and its shoes "are mentioned just once even though practically everyone on camera is wearing them in practically every scene." Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in N.Y., L.A. and Phoenix on April 26, before rolling it out nationwide in May. Sony Pictures Classics co-President Tom Bernard said that Vans' effort "a new form of marketing, almost like viral marketing on the Internet," and that the money and advertising exposure Vans put behind the film "was valuable to Sony." Bernard: "If `Dogtown' succeeds, you'll see other companies trying to find something to show off the lifestyle they want to be associated with." The film won the IFP/West Independent Spirit Award for best documentary and the audience and director awards for documentaries at the '01 Sundance Film Festival. Pinsker: "Vans decided to invest about $750,000 in `Dogtown' as part of its effort to reach a young audience that is resistant to traditional marketing channels. The results were promising enough that Vans committed to financing another documentary and an animated TV pilot" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/15).

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