[Interview] Jamie Reilly about going Off The Wall with Vans
Vans celebrates its founding pillars with the global This is Off the Wall campaign. We talk to Jamie Reilly, Vans Vice President of Global Creative about the footwear, apparel and accessories brand, the campaign, and the Off The Wall spirit.
Hi Jamie. Please start briefly with the story of Vans. How did the brand start?
Paul Van Doren, along with his brother and two friends, opened the Van Doren Rubber Company in 1966, in Anaheim, California. They made shoes on the premises and sold them directly to the public. They started making customized shoes when a customer couldn’t find a color she was looking for and from there, customization and upgraded design was part of the Vans design culture. In the early ‘70s skateboarders adopted the shoes for their durable, grippy waffle soles and Vans partnered with Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta to make the world’s first skateboarding shoe. 50 years later, Vans is still supporting skateboarding and the other creative endeavors that spring out of youth culture.
The This is Off the Wall campaign is a big one. Tell us more why you launched it.
The phrase Off The Wall has been associated with the brand since we got involved in skateboarding in the 1970s and skateboarders were literally going Off The Wall skating pools. Today, it is both a description of the people we’ve always championed, and the way we view the world. That said, it’s a little ambiguous, and fairly broad. Instead of telling people what it means, we wanted to show them. The 12 short spots highlight the creative pursuits of our extended family of ambassadors, each embodying the spirit of Vans in its own way.
What does the campaign contain?
The campaign features outdoor, digital advertising, a range of short format digital/social films of various lengths and there is a 30 second spot with some neat bits of stop motion animation. All of this content, plus House of Vans and our global skateboarding competition, Vans Park Series, will bring the campaign to life.
Did you work together with creative and/or media agencies?
Most of the work was done internally by the Vans Creative Group, but we also had some great creative partners externally. We worked with HunterGatherer for help with the stop motion animation, we worked with Beta Petrol again this year as musical collaborators, and a bunch of different directors, both internal and external. As a company that champions creative expression, those collaborations are an essential part of our DNA.
How did you launch the campaign?
The campaign was launched globally on February 20, 2017. It was promoted across our social media channels, pre-roll, social GIFs, digital banners, snapchat filters, out of home placements in key cities, ambassador social posts highlighting their content and earned media articles.
Vans always had fans in the fairly secluded world of skaters. Still you grew big. Can you explain?
Vans has always stood behind skateboarding since our first relationships with Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta. Skateboarding has always had an influence across fashion, art and music, so Vans has grown organically into these markets. We’ve never forgotten our heritage but have been welcomed with open arms into so many creative communities.
The fans were and are your ambassadors. Is this campaign putting them into the spotlights?
We used a mix of the folks to tell their Off The Wall story and each of them have personal relationships with the brand. From Tony Alva who is a skateboarding legend, to style purveyor Jayne Min who has been wearing Vans her entire life. If you wear Vans, you’re part of the family.
Do you live the Off the Wall life?
Clearly, if my life was truly Off The Wall I’d have my own commercial (laughs). I’m lucky to walk into work each day at a brand I love and do creative work for a company that has always put a premium on creativity.
What’s the latest Vans news?
We have some exciting product innovations this year and we are continuing our expansion of House of Vans.