Dr. Martens Airwair USA LLC

Author:William Baue

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10 NW 10th Ave.

Portland, Oregon 97209


Telephone: (800) 460-3885

Web site: www.drmartens.com


In May 1997 Airwair Ltd. assigned the creative portion of its Dr. Martens advertising account to the Dallas-based agency Pyro. Dr. Martens was a brand of work boots and shoes known for their industrial outer appearance. The boots already had an antiestablishment and youth-culture image; Pyro was asked to create a branding campaign that would continue to define that image. Pyro responded with a series of four print ads—none of which contained a product shot—that appeared in consumer magazines and as in-store posters. The expression of the Dr. Martens brand through unconventional images and messages maintained consistency with the company's reputation for nontraditional marketing strategies. Television advertising developed by the British agency Harrison Carloss followed up on the print campaign, which continued into 1998. This U.S. campaign also extended into an international campaign.

Concurrent with this campaign, Dr. Martens extended its brand name by producing and distributing alternative music compilations that complemented its brash image. Then, in 1998, it launched the Dr. Martens record label to continue this marketing strategy by promoting shoe sales through CD giveaways. The move tied into the brand's historical connection to alternative musical trends, from the days of the British invasion in the 1960s to the eruption of punk in the 1970s to the breaking of new wave in the 1980s to the grunge movement of the 1990s. Dr. Martens sought to use its brand recognition as a means of leveraging publicity for up-and-coming bands while at the same time benefiting itself by adding a further compulsion to the consumer's purchase decision. Dr. Martens also tied into the World Cup soccer tournament in 1998 with a series of boots featuring national flags countries competing in the event.


Dr. Klaus Maertens, a German M.D., teamed up with Dr. Herbert Funk, an engineer, to design shoes to relieve the sore feet of Munich women in the wake of World War II. The shoes also provided relief to Maertens himself after he suffered a skiing accident. The secret to the design was the process of heat-sealing the sole so as to create a pocket of air that cushioned footfalls. In 1959 Maertens transferred production to Britain, licensing the brand to the Benjamin Griggs and Septimus Jones Company (later known as R. Griggs Group), manufacturers of industrial footwear since 1901. The anglicization of the name to Dr. Martens occurred in this transition, simplifying the spelling for the purpose of exporting the shoes to new markets. The Griggs company produced its first Dr. Martens boot on the first of April, 1960, naming the model 1460 after this date.

Guitarist Pete Townshend initiated Dr. Martens' connection to rock and roll. He wore 1460s on stage

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because the boots proved solid enough for stomping on smashed guitars when his band, the Who, took to destroying its equipment during distortion-filled encores. The gesture of youthful rebellion became embodied in the shoes, which were too bulky to be fashionable but turned into a fashion statement anyway. Subsequent generations of rebels wore them as an expression of their angst. This earned DMs, as the boots were dubbed, an underground following in the skinhead, punk...

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