Digital Marketing Redux   //   March 7, 2024

After four years, Vivaia is rolling out its first brand campaign

Vivaia, a sustainable shoe brand that makes products out of recycled bottles, is launching its first brand campaign since its inception in 2020.

Vivaia’s campaign, called “In Her Shoes,” debuts globally Thursday in connection with International Women’s Day on Friday. The campaign’s core video features a cast of five women — two ballerinas, a chef, a surgeon and a newscaster — all of whom speak to the camera about relying on Vivaia shoes for comfort and style. The campaign will live on Vivaia’s social media channels and U.S. and Japanese websites and feature five of Vivaia’s best-selling ballet flats, as well as some of its new spring line.

In the past, Vivaia’s marketing has been limited to smaller photo shoots or social media direct-response ads. The new campaign, however, is its “biggest event” yet and relies on storytelling — rather than products alone — to promote the brand, Vivaia’s creative director Melissa Lawrence told Modern Retail. It’s a fresh messaging approach for Vivaia, which now has more room to play around with ads after growing its business 5x in 2023.

“It was really important to us to have real women telling their stories and speaking out about what challenges they face and how our brand supports them in their endeavors, in their everyday life,” Lawrence said. “As part of our core DNA as a brand, we really want to listen to women and listen to what they’re asking for. We believe comfort and style can coexist and should coexist.”

Vivaia launched in the early days of the pandemic as an online-only footwear brand, although it now also sells apparel, bags, socks and insoles. While Vivaia still makes a good chunk of its sales from digital, it began hosting in-person pop-ups last year and is now sold at Nordstrom. Vivaia has recycled more than 16 million water bottles to make its products and has amassed a following of more than 1 million customers.

Sarah Engel, president of the marketing firm January Digital, said she is happy to see more brands, especially women-focused ones, using actual customers in campaigns. “Younger consumers and women in general, if you look at the statistics, do shop in a way that says, ‘My personal ethics and what I care about needs to match the brand purpose,’ although it’s not the only deciding factor,” Engel told Modern Retail. For International Women’s Day, “I hope that [Vivaia gets] that message across from both a sustainability standpoint and a woman-founded standpoint,” she said. One of Vivaia’s founders is footwear veteran Marina Chen.

As part of the campaign, Vivaia is asking its followers on social media to comment on its recent Instagram post with “what makes you feel empowered.” The post had more than 100 comments as of March 6. After reading the responses, Vivaia will select two participants to receive a new pair of flats on March 15. The brand is also kicking off the “In Her Shoes” campaign with a New York City launch event.

For years, brands have turned to quick-hit, performance-based ads to bring in new shoppers and up sales. As competition heats up, though, many are trying large-scale brand campaigns to better their chances for long-term success. Spanx, for example, rolled out its first brand campaign in London in February, while Shake Shack tested its first brand campaign in 2022 in Seattle.

Engel, the president of January Digital, told Modern Retail that while everyone’s brand campaign may look different, timing is important to get right. Considering this, Engel said she understands why Vivaia waited four years to tackle its first big campaign of this type.

“You’re going to find a moment where you’ve created the traction, you have some product feedback, you have some brand fans,” she said. “It makes a lot of sense to me that you wait for that moment when you have the funds and your EBITDA can support going out and doing some real storytelling.”