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December 2, 2022

How authenticity can drive better strategy and outcomes

I recently bought my sister a pair of Crocs for her birthday. Overjoyed, she immediately exclaimed “I’m taking my Crocs for their first walk!” and stepped out as if she now owned some cool exotic pet and was about to show them their new world. The irony here is that we used to love to tell my dad (who has worn Crocs for as long as I can remember) how notoriously uncool they made him look. I’ll give it to him – he stuck by his (very obnoxious) highlighter-blue pair and wore them without a care about whether they were ‘cool’ or not. Today, the brand has a cult like following. Dad thinks he started a Croc-craze.

So how did Crocs turn a bunch of haters into lovers? (Hint: it was not a partnership with my dad). This article gives a good look into it, and I’ll put the main points into this piece. While opinions on them were very polarising (and still are), there is no doubt awareness was already very high. This polarisation allowed for a clever brand proposition and strategy to bring it to life.

They stayed true to themselves

As said by their CMO, “We are very confident being ugly”. Crocs knew they weren’t everyones cup of tea, but they didn’t care. Instead of changing their product to appeal to the masses they embraced their product, cleverly incorporating the jokes and memes thrown their way into their creative, making them all the more authentic and endearing. “Come As You Are” was the campaign created, encouraging everyone to be comfortable in their own shoes. They reflected this by focusing on comfort and personalisation. A huge range of colours and the addition of ‘jibbitz’ (charms you can clip through the holes), means you really can make your shoe unique to you.

Identifying a new audience

Original Croc lovers were an older audience that simply loved them for their comfort. A good starting point perhaps, but they were sure there was a group out there that would resonate with their new proposition even more. Gen Z are a group who value self expression, diversity and community – exactly what crocs stood for and therefore the perfect group to target. Knowing exactly who their ideal audience was, all that was left to do was make themselves known to them.

They embraced digital

Gen Z are a digital first audience, and Crocs knew this was where they needed to be to reach them. Not only do they invest heavily in paid search and have a strong content strategy across socials, they got really creative in the platforms they use. They created ‘Croc filters’ for Snapchat, Croc World on Minecraft and have recently started looking into their own NFT launch. They’ve also done some major collaborations with celebrities: the key here is that the colloborations are authentic – they choose celebrities that were already Croc wearers on their own accord (while also having massive Gen Z fan bases themselves).

Crocs go 180° – what can we learn?

Crocs went from USD $400 million in losses to $2.3 billion in revenue, so I’m sure we can all take away a lesson or two from them. If you have a brand and product that you believe in, it’s likely someone else will to. Ask yourself, are you articulating your proposition in the right way, and to the right audience? If it’s a new audience you’re going after – can you get creative in the ways you reach and engage them? And lastly, is it acceptable to wear Crocs to the office?

If you have a beautiful product, or maybe a less-than beautiful one, and you’d like to see how AFFINITY can help you embrace your authenticity why not get in touch? Contact Angela, AFFINITY’s Chief Brand Officer at




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