Even if you don’t watch the HBO hit series Eastbound & Down, there’s still a lot
to love about the latest K-Swiss short film featuring pitchman (and now
MFCEO — you’ll have to figure out what that means) Kenny Powers. Rude,
crude and sexist, he’s equal parts hero and every mother’s worst
nightmare. We spoke with Glenn Cole at 72andSunny about the latest
K-Swiss campaign and how it all came together.
How do you convince a brand like K-Swiss to go along with a huge risk
like the Kenny Powers campaign?
There were risks since Kenny can be
polarizing but I think K-Swiss saw it as a smart, strategic move. They
had ambitious goals but little credibility with young sports-minded
guys. They also didn’t have a marquee athlete wearing K-Swiss products
on primetime TV. So our conversations focused on the need to re-write
the rules of marketing in the category, and the importance of drawing in
audiences instead of pushing messages at them. We also talked a lot
about who loves Eastbound & Down — young guys and pro athletes. You
would be amazed how many pro athletes consider Eastbound & Down their
favorite TV show.
Talk about the idea behind the MFCEO video.
Retailer interest in K-Swiss
grew following the success of the first campaign, which was about
re-introducing K-Swiss and signing Kenny Powers. We knew no one would be
satisfied with more of the same so we gave Kenny what every kid wants:
the keys to the candy store. From there, the campaign sort of wrote
itself. We just kept asking ourselves, ‘What would Kenny do?’ As a
result, we documented Kenny re-populating upper management with pro
athletes, making deals with Michael Bay, Mark Cuban, and The US
military, re-designing the company’s website, and ultimately conceiving
his own marketing campaign (slogans, ads, all of it).
How did Kenny Powers and K-Swiss team up in the first place?
introduced the idea to K-Swiss in 2010 as a way to launch Tubes, a new
line of performance training shoes. Then we worked closely with
Eastbound & Down creators Danny McBride and Jody Hill, HBO, and K-Swiss
to create a campaign that satisfied everybody’s objectives.
Has the campaign moved a lot of shoes?
In year one alone, online sales
increased by 150%. But other metrics—including brand awareness,
relevance, and retailer confidence—were just as important.
The writing and character are brilliant. Are the writers behind the HBO
show involved in the K-Swiss campaign?
72andSunny scripted it, and
adapted any suggestions from Danny/Jodi, K-Swiss, and HBO. That said,
Danny and Jodi are masters of improv, which is reflected in the films.
And David Nichols of K-Swiss had smart, inspired contributions on set
too. From the beginning, we treated the project as a collaboration so
everything you see is a joint effort. At times, it simply became a game
of making each other laugh the hardest.
Do people think Danny the actor really is Kenny Powers? Any funny or
angry fan mail?
No wacky fan mail, but a lot of great comments posted on
YouTube and Funny or Die. But yeah, a lot of people approach Danny and
either expect or want him to be like Kenny. But what’s really scary is
how many people in America want to BE Kenny Powers. Hide your children!