Cole Haan's "Don't Go Home" Campaign: Late-Night Dance Parties, Free Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

By Mitra Sorrells September 25, 2012, 4:24 PM EDT

Cole Haan posted the location of its food truck on its Twitter account. Some people who tweeted with the hashtag #DontGoHome were rewarded with special toppings, such as bacon, on their complimentary grilled cheese sandwiches.

Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky/

Cole Haan has taken to the streets and clubs of New York this fall to introduce its newest shoe, the Chelsea Pump. The brand’s “Don’t Go Home” campaign includes late-night dance parties, disco ball projections, and food trucks serving free grilled cheese sandwiches, all intended to convince women to stay out late and that the Chelsea Pump is the ideal shoe to wear all day and into the night. “There are a thousand reasons you might chose to go home early, but your shoes should not be one of them,” said Ivan Wicksteed, chief marketing officer for Cole Haan.

“What we are trying to do is be remarkable, to have this brand be talked about by people. I’m a believer that people are the new media and the most effective and efficient way to change perceptions of a brand is to engage people so they become advocates and talk about you on your behalf. The whole campaign is not an advertising campaign; it’s an experiential campaign,” Wicksteed said.

The main events during the campaign were dance parties at the nightclubs Don Hill’s (reopened just for this event) on September 13 and Le Poisson Rouge on September 20. By submitting an R.S.V.P. through Cole Haan’s #DontGoHome Facebook app, consumers received a chance to win V.I.P. access. At the parties, attendees could try on the Chelsea shoe, and those who did received a complimentary pair in the mail a few days later.

Also at both of those events, and two additional nights in between, the company parked a food truck outside the venues to serve free grilled cheese sandwiches to partygoers. Wicksteed said the idea developed when they started thinking about, “What do people need? What are the many reasons why people would choose to go home early? One of them is you leave a bar or club and you go home because you are hungry or you don’t have the energy to stay out.” In addition to free food, the trucks included displays of the Chelsea Pump and brand ambassadors to share product information.

To further engage New Yorkers at night, the company used Day-Glo paint and black lights to display messages on the rolling metal gates of businesses that close early in neighborhoods near bars and subway stops. Messages included statements such as, “You didn’t move to NYC to stay in. #DontGoHome” and “Tomorrow’s story happens tonight. #DontGoHome.”

In the meatpacking district, Lower East Side, and East Village, Cole Haan also projected giant disco balls on buildings to encourage spontaneous dance parties in the street. The projections also displayed tweets shared via the #DontGoHome hashtag highlighting reasons to stay out all night.

Wicksteed said they have seen a noticeable spike in “social presence” since the campaign began, including more than 800 uses of the campaign hashtag the week of September 17, which is an 86 percent increase over the prior week. “A lot of brands focus solely on reach. They become obsessed with the absolute number of fans they have, but we are more focused on engagement. The industry average for engagement on Facebook is pitifully low, just under 1 percent, which means 99 percent of people are ignoring what brands are doing. They don’t feel any need to comment or pass it on to their friends. We have an engagement rate of 4 or 5 percent, which is significantly higher than the average, because the experiences we are creating are more compelling and more interesting,” he said.

The “Don’t Go Home” campaign will continue this fall with similar events in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

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