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By The Drum | Editorial

December 6, 2023 | 2 min read

Birkenstock and New York Times Advertising have won the Video and Film categories at The Drum Awards for Content. Here is the award-winning case study.

“Ugly for a Reason” is Birkenstock’s first global brand campaign. Through this original creative platform created by T Brand, the content studio of New York Times Advertising, the campaign brought foot health to the forefront of public consciousness and revealed the critical role Birkenstock plays in maintaining it.

We aimed to show that Birkenstock was not just another fashion brand capitalizing on the "ugly" shoe trend. Rather, Birkenstock had a higher purpose behind its design; it is "Ugly for a Reason." This message resonated with consumers, especially those prioritizing health and wellness in a post-lockdown world.

Through a three-part video series, print ad cover wraps, audio spots, digital ad takeovers and social extensions, the campaign reached over 140 million people worldwide, educating audiences on the important role of footwear in maintaining foot health. Ads with images of feet were placed across every corner of The New York Times, making the issue unignorable.

Grounded in Birkenstock’s ethos that footwear should be designed for functionality not fashion, the ad campaign demonstrated how its shoes are designed for a higher purpose - to complement human anatomy. With striking visuals and insights from distinguished scientists, orthopedic experts and historians, the investigative video episodes explored the important role feet have played in human evolution, how we can better protect their health and the story of how Birkenstock disrupted an entire industry.

"Ugly for a Reason" was more than just a brand campaign; it was a call to action for better foot health. And it worked. Birkenstock turned foot health into a global conversation by aligning its product with a broader cultural discussion around health and capitalizing on the popularity of "ugly" shoes. This positioning elevated the perception of Birkenstock as a brand that prioritizes functionality over fashion, showcasing its higher purpose and establishing itself as a recognized leader in the realm of foot health.

It’s not fashion. It’s foot health. It’s ugly for a reason.

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