Tapping Into the Mind of the Well-Dressed Man: A Q&A With Adrienne Lofton, CMO of Dockers®

Levi Strauss & Co.
February 18, 2014

Crafting a creative marketing campaign is no easy task. Just ask Dockers® Chief Marketing Officer Adrienne Lofton. She’ll be the first to tell you that it’s also an incredibly fun and rewarding job.

From tapping into demographic insights, to keeping campaigns fresh, inventive and memorable, Adrienne is constantly on the lookout for new and interesting ways to tell the Dockers® story as it unfolds. The busy executive took time out of her schedule to talk with Unzipped about what it’s like bringing the Dockers® message to the public.

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Dockers CMO Adrienne Lofton

UNZIPPED: As CMO of Dockers®, what does your role entail?

ADRIENNE LOFTON: My role at Dockers® is to create a differentiated position for the brand. At the highest level, my team’s responsibility is to drive the voice, look and the feel of the brand to ensure that our brand resonates with our core demographic around the globe.

My job is all about storytelling. And to be honest, that’s the sweetest part of my days. Finding ways to engage the consumer through stories that surprise and delight is how we will change the conversation about the Dockers® brand today from a commodity to a widely loved and trusted brand worldwide.

From your vantage point, what makes Dockers® unique compared with other brands?

I think what makes Dockers® special, and one of the reasons I joined the team, is the fact that we are the first of its kind in the category. No one in the industry can say that but us. It’s something to truly be proud of—and inside that pride is the commitment to bringing this brand back to dominance, not just in share ownership, but also in the hearts and minds of men.

How does being female inform your work—how do you tap into the mind of the brand’s mostly male demographic?

Being female, I probably over-index on trying to get deeper insights into what makes men tick [laughs]. But really, it’s critical that I remove my own perceptions because that’s what allows marketers to be objective and analyze any given situation. It’s critical that we don’t stereotype men but instead really dig into the insights around what motivates them, what makes them tick—and, ultimately, what role can our brand play in their lives to resonate on a deeper level with men of any age. And by the way, success isn’t just about knowing men like the back of our hands. Winning is also about getting into the psyche of women, who are often the primary purchaser of the product.

How is a Dockers® marketing campaign born? From conception to final product, can you walk us through the creation process?

It’s an incredibly collaborative process, and it always begins with having an integral understanding of who our consumer target is. From there we build a strategic brief that taps into a product need and a clear consumer insight into the product or brand reason for being.

Then, we get to the fun part—you get to see the work, to take yourself out of your shoes and get yourself into the heart of the man. Will this resonate? Most importantly: Will this differentiate? Will this give the demographic a reason to buy Dockers®—and better yet, to buy more?

If so, then you’re onto something! From there, it’s the refinement of that work, a bit of testing to ensure we’re globally relevant and translating, and from there we begin the creation of a strategic media plan. How are you going to reach the consumer? Is it traditional TV and print, is it digital or social? Those are the decisions we make as a team to ensure we break through the competitive clutter to be seen, considered and ultimately purchased.

Nice Pants was one of the most iconic campaigns of the ’90s. How do you continue to move Dockers® marketing efforts forward and keep the ideas fresh?

Nice Pants is one of my favorite campaigns to date. Not only did it tap into men’s insight but it also appealed to women. It had this really cool, laid-back and confident approach to the brand. It was a little edgy and it was a little provocative, especially in its time. To me, it is a great standard the brand set for how we go forward. It was a campaign that people wanted to talk about and discuss. It resonated in the minds of people all over—both in PR and via word of mouth.

Every single campaign has served as the steppingstone for the next; they build upon each other. While Nice Pants was one of the sexiest and coolest campaigns of ours, Wear the Pants was a phenomenal effort to re-establish the brand as the leader—and to remind guys that “if you’re not wearing Dockers®, you’re wearing nothing.”

Can you speak to what you think the future holds for Dockers® and what you’re currently excited about working on?

I think the future for Dockers® is about finding fresh ways to constantly challenge the current perception of what the majority of consumers see us as today (great-fitting pants at a value, which mostly speaks to a more conservative and slightly older base), and truly flip it on its head. We also must identify avenues to get into the consideration set of a young guy who sees us today as a dad’s brand. This is no easy task, but with the product we have (Dockers® Alpha Collection), it absolutely can be done.

We are always looking for ways to break into culture in a way that makes us part of the fabric and conversation—it’s incredibly daunting, but thrilling.

What is the best part of your job?

I love that every day is different, whether it’s partnering with the design and merchant teams to deliver differentiated product positioning, reviewing great work from our creative team, thinking through our newest PR/influencer strategies, rethinking the on-floor expression, reinventing social for the brand or thinking through what the next five years of our brand looks like. Truly, there is never a dull day!

And at the end of the day, what I love most as a marketing strategist is that the job is really a mix between the art of telling great stories, getting to know the consumer, and understanding and tapping into these really exciting, creative moments.