Sid Vicious in Dr. Martens!

When thinking about consumer-oriented ads I immediately thought of Dr. Martens and their brand strength, well past brand strength. In the 90’s Dr. Martens were it. When it came to hip, trendy footwear, Dr. Martens ruled with the rocker, skater and even prep cliques. Anybody who was anybody wore Dr. Martens in highschool. So what happened? Although Dr. Martens still has a following, it is not as strong. Industry giant Saatchi and Saatchi tried to revive that following with an edgy ad campaign in 2007 that featured four dead rockstars that included Kurt Cobain, Joe Strummer, Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious. The ad above portrays Sex Pistols frontman Vicious as a heavenly figure in classic Dr. Marten boots. The campaign was short lived because as soon as the poster ads were “leaked” on a U.S. website, Dr. Martens fired Saatchi and Saatchi due to negative backlash. Courtney Love in particular protested the use of her dead husband’s face for commercial gain. Positive and negative response towards the ads still exist today and the ads are as influential as ever.

As far as the strategy of the ad goes, it’s simple. They want to show the consumer that even in death, Dr. Martens are still the footwear of choice for these influential rockers. The ad gives Dr. Martens an image of permanence and longevity; like they will always be there. The subset this ad satisfies is brand image. The ad isn’t selling any of Dr. Martens features or benefits, it’s selling the “cool” and “added value” of the brand. I believe Saatchi and Saatchi did a great job executing this. In my opinion these ads are not distasteful and offensive and had this campaign survived, perhaps the brand image of the Dr. Martens of the 90’s would live again.

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