Vans ‘ComfyCushy High School’ Global Campaign Kicks Off New Era Led By Updated Tech

In a response to loyal customer demand for ‘more comfortable Vans’ and to drive further international expansion, late February saw Vans launch a new signature footwear technology (which debuted inside its time-tested Era shoe) through a campaign called ‘ComfyCush High School’.


Vans is embracing youth culture with its global ‘ComfyCush High School’ activation to introduce the new tech.


The activation series kicked off on 21 February initially in New York and the teaser phase saw Vans post black and white OOH ads above and below ground throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan ((done entirely in-house).


Then, as ComfyCush went live, a color-version of the ad highlighting the new shoe will be posted over half the original ads – thus creatively bridging the old and new Vans Era.


At the launch event in Brooklyn, vans brought guests back to their rebellious high school days and had them take Vans-themed classes like the history behind the brand and the science behind the sneakers.



Following the US launch, the campaign is rolling out in other global locations – including Shanghai and London.


In London, for example, Vans also transformed its London-based House of Vans space into an immersive high-school party experience to celebrate the launch of the Vans ComfyCush, a sports shoe with a softer sole.


The experience – which runs from 1 to 3 March – encouraged partygoers to relive their uncomfortable teenage years, but with a twist that the brand describes as: “Now you can be yourself. And keep it comfy.”


It will feature music from Slaves and Yxng Bane, alongside video and audio installations around art and science. Guests will have the chance to view and test an upgrade to the venue’s skateboarding area, which is the only indoor skate space in central London.


There was also a supporting ComfyCush-themed activation at Westfield London on 22 to 24 February where visitors could jump into a foam-filled pit.


This colour-led creative approach also stretches across the digital and social strands of the campaign.




All the content peices and creative executions aim to drive consumers to the new tech’s online microsite to find out further details about ComfyCushy – https://www.vans.eu/comfycush.html


“We’ve always thought about the consumer as part of the brand,” explained Vans vice-president of creative Jamie Reilly.


“When you see the checkerboard, it feels like an essential strand of our DNA. That came from kids doodling checkerboards on the sidewall of their shoes. We’ve always had a back and forth with youth culture where we promote it and support it. It feeds our energy; it’s a fountain of youth for us,” said Reilly.




Vans’ classic Era silhouette debuted in 1976 as the company began to align itself with the professional skateboarding community, cementing the brand’s punk status as the official sponsor of America’s outlaw youth culture.


“It [was] like saying we’re going to sponsor burglars,” Vans vice-president of creative Jamie Reilly told The Drum.


Now, both Vans and skateboarding are in the American mainstream.


Reilly said he isn’t worried about the brand turning old hat as it becomes more widely accepted because Vans listens to its consumers and has its eyes on new markets.


“We have fans all over the world. What’s been interesting to me is to watch how skateboarding and punk, in particular, manifest in places like China. In America, skateboarding is much safer now… [but] in China skateboarding is an act of rebellion,” Reilly continued.


“If you’re a kid who’s into punk rock and into skateboarding in China, you’re like, ‘I’m cutting my own path.’ There’s not really a road map for this. I’m inventing these things. I think that’s been something that’s been a great breath of energy for us, is this global stage to play in.”


But now the company is looking to push into new markets while introducing upgraded footwear technology to satisfy loyal fans.


Vans has more than 2,000 retail locations around the world and projects $5bn in revenue growth by 2023 as it expands in new markets.


Interestingly, the brand simultaneously acts as anything from renegade to beloved standby within different global markets.











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