Foot Locker is calling all Stripers, enlisting its enthusiastic sales squad in a new holiday campaign. Themed “Heart of Sneakers,” the Preacher-created platform stars the Hornet’s LaMelo Ball, the Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards and singer Enisa in spots designed to emphasize the retailer’s role in the drop-obsessed world of sneaker culture.
The campaign breaks following more than a year of sales declines at the retailer and major brand shaking up the world of kicks. Kim Waldmann, global chief customer officer, explains.
Retail Insider: What is the goal of this campaign? People can buy sneakers in so many places. How will these convince them to come to Foot Locker?
Kim Waldmann: This campaign, our new platform, is grounded in critical insights from our consumers on what differentiates Foot Locker. Number one is the breadth of sneakers we offer: the hottest latest releases. And then it’s our Stripers, the level of service these associates provide, the confidence they build and that feeling or boost you get from them.
Retail Insider: How do these ads do that?
Waldmann: Throughout every ad, you see these Stripers boosting customers up, bringing the love and building confidence. That Striper is at the core, and they come through in all the work. They will continue to be an anchor point going forward.
Retail Insider: There’s so much happening in this industry. Foot Locker sales are down, and major brands are struggling. As sales cool, what are people looking for?
Waldmann: What they're looking for from us is the hottest new product and the latest releases tied to basketball culture. They want a broader kind of sport styles and trends. They're also looking for a great customer experience. We’re bringing brand storytelling and product knowledge to life in our store environment, giving the customers confidence and allowing them to try something new.
Retail Insider: Can you describe where you think sneaker culture is?
Waldmann: It’s a celebration of our customer's identity tied to sneakers. Our core demographic sees shoes as a reflection of who they are and their style. They dress from the shoes up to reflect that. Also, being a part of sneaker culture means sharing their love of sneakers, being part of the community, and being collectors.
Retail Insider: Brand shakeups are underway. Nike is challenged in North America. Teens are giving up on Vans, Hoka and On are rising. Is that another way to say consumers are more open to new brands? And what kind of opportunity does that create for you?
Waldmann: Within our segmentation, there are sneaker mavens who know exactly what they want. They’re looking for a certain model and style, and Footlocker can offer that. At the same time, we provide a range of brands, from Nike, Jordan and Adidas to the growth brands, like On and Hoka, and seasonal brands like Ugg. So that breadth and newness engage a broader cross-section of consumers.
Retail Insider: How popular are sneakers as a gift item?
Waldmann: We see it as a giftable item. There's a mix, with many customers self-gifting. And there are a lot of exciting product drops during November and December, especially for kids.
Retail Insider: What are your expectations for this campaign besides sales?
Waldmann: This is just the beginning of our brand narrative and storytelling. It’s a long-term strategy that we'll continue to build on. We're not looking for an overnight quick fix. Of course, we're looking at upper funnel metrics, brand lift studies, reach impressions, and click-through rates to gauge engagement levels. But again, this is kind of just the beginning of our long-term efforts to reignite the love of the Footlocker brand and remind customers that we are the OG in sneakers and sneaker culture.
Retail Insider: I understand additional work featuring Steph Curry and Kevin Durant is launching soon. Is there anything special in the media plan for this campaign?
Waldmann: This is a big investment and a high-reach campaign. We’ll be activating across connected TV, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, as well as digital out-of-home and other social channels. It’s a 360-degree effort.
Retail Insider: You held key marketing roles at Athleta and Sephora. What have you brought from those companies to Foot Locker?
Waldmann: Mary Dillon, our chief executive officer, came from Ulta, and she has said this, too: There are parallels between the beauty category and sneakers. Consumers are highly engaged and driven by newness and the drop model. And consumers want to see a range of brand options.
Retail Insider: What’s the last pair of shoes you got hyped about?
Waldmann: I am very excited about the New Balance 9060s I just got for a holiday. I’m also a big Jordan fan. It’s hard to choose.