Times are tough for small businesses. The global economy isn’t doing anybody any favours, and no matter what your niche might be, you’re surrounded by competitors. For a retailer of luxury and fashion items, it’s even harder to convince people to part with their hard earned cash.
For Shoes Shoes Shoes, a Malaysian shoe store, the key to a successful sales campaign was to enhance their customers’ shopping experience by combining retail therapy with the giddy excitement of the dating game. So they partnered with Lunch Actually, a popular dating site, to provide a rather unique matchmaking service, and what began as a clever marketing ploy became a reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale for the 21st Century.
Shoes Shoes Shoes utilised a simple pledging model to start playing Cupid with their customers. Men can sign up to Lunch Actually and then select up to twenty pairs of shoes from Shoes Shoes Shoes that their ideal woman might wear on a date. Then, the would-be suitors pledge a discount on said shoes. When a female shopper makes a purchase from the store in Kuala Lumpur, she is able to browse the profiles of the men who placed a pledge on her purchase, and can easily redeem their pledged discount simply by going on one date.
Sexist? Perhaps. Effective? Definitely. While The Huffington Post fleetingly coined the term “shoe prostitution” in its coverage of the story, Shoes Shoes Shoes has laughed off claims that its Shoe Dating campaign is exploitative. However, one can’t help but get the impression that a little bit of tongue-in-cheek exploitation has gone a long way towards the success of Shoe Dating. The shirtless male models in store windows have certainly been well received, and the slogan “Get a pair of shoes from Shoes Shoes Shoes and get a free man!” has become quite the talking point.
In fact, the campaign cultivated more than 30 times the expected buzz, with coverage not only from female-oriented magazines like Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, but also international publications such as Forbes, BBC World and The New York Times.
In the end, over 80% of the women purchasing participated in the Shoe Dating experience and went on their dates. So on top of reaching a global audience, Shoes Shoes Shoes may also have helped a few hopeless romantics find love; the perfect happy ending for the ultimate marketing fairy tale.