Rockport shoe ad bait and ditch

You may have noticed that I've been critical of print advertising, especially in general interest publications.  But oddly enough, not that long ago, I encountered a print ad so compelling that I took action.  Repeatedly.  And yet the merchant did not win the sale.  Here's what I saw in an expensive early page of Fast Company :

I don't think it's an invite to move up to Cape Ann.  It's about the shoes, and I like the look of those shoes, so I clicked over to Rockport's web site but couldn't find them.  There were other nice shoes, but I really wanted to learn more about the pair pictured.  I tore out the page and kept it for future reference.  That's the second action the ad compelled me to take.

The third action was to visit the website a couple more times, and then the fourth was to visit the retail store on Newbury street.  A friendly Rockporter asked, "can I help you find something?" and to both of our surprise, I said, "yes!" and handed over the ad.

He consulted with another, apparently more senior, employee who came over and explained, "That shoe wasn't made.  We have it but not in brown and not with suede, and not in the store but we can order it.  You're the third person to come in with this ad."

The shoe wasn't made?  Never?  Not even one pair for the photo shoot?  I guess it's all done with computer graphics these days.  What do you mean you have it but in a different color and different material and not in the store?  Then it's not really the same shoe, is it?  And if it's not in the store, then you don't really have it, do you?  I'm the third person to bring in this ad?  Maybe somebody should tell HQ that there's interest in this imaginary shoe?

A friend suggested that I should sue for false advertising.  I'm not sure if I really have a case on that, but I must say this is a pretty lame bait and switch since there's not even much switch.  More like bait and ditch.  Further, it's not that the shoe played a supporting role in a lifestyle ad or an ad with a celebrity endorsement - the shoe is very nearly all there is to the ad.  The copy at the bottom reads in part (my emphasis), "There's nothing timid about you - or these shoes.  Torsion(R) system technology by Adidas."

I guess they didn't really mean those shoes in particular.  There are at least six pairs of Rockport shoes in my closet (and scattered about the hallway) - there would have been one more. I give this ad and the almost-geniuses at Rockport a grade of fail.

14 Responses

  1. A sole destroying story, if ever there was one...
  2. If I'd bought anything, I'd demand my Meuniére back.
  3. This is going to take time to heel, isn't it.
  4. Oh, you want to go toe-to-toe now? Let's see how long your arch wit lasts...
  5. There's no need to get upperty about it, was only trying to sneaker pun in there like the slippery type I am.
  6. It's fun to see you people lace into each other. (Oh, wait. That pun doesn't work. There <i>are</i> no laces. Arghh! I'm such a loafer!)
  7. This is starting to clog my inbox.
  8. Man - I'm so glad I came across your blog. I'm even more excited that I wasn't the only one to hunt down this elusive shoe. I think those are some sharp shoes and I bet they would be pretty comfortable to wear to work...oh well...crap like this pisses me off. Hey Rockport - if you're listening...I guess I have to give one of your competitors my money since you didn't make these shoes.
  9. Regular
    Sorry dude but there is some action you need to take: develop a taste in shoes. They scream "I'M A WIMP." Cool if you're going metrosexual but that look went out with Michael Jackson's babysitting job.
  10. Hugh Garber
    Wow, this thread is laced with witty puns and it would be a mocca(sin) for it to stop now... And I'm happy to chime in with a few shoenanigans of my own! Guess this is just another example of product development & marketing not being "in-step" with each other. Too bad because I agree that it's a very comfortable looking shoe... And stylish to boot! Kudos to DK for blowing the (shoe)horn and bringing this (mocca)sin out into the limelight. I'm toe(tally) unimpressed with those loafers at Rockport... If you ask me, they totally sole'd out on this advertisement and really socked it to the customer. There's no flop-flopping on this issue... It's a big sandal! If you ask me, this who ordeal is (steve) madden(ing)!!!
  11. Well, that was interesting. Biggest traffic day in limeduck history thanks to Universalhub and links. Jonno, Tangyslice, Suldog and Hugh: thanks for keeping things so bad they're good. Regular: come say that to my face so I can slap you with my European Carryall. Tyler: I guess we have to choice but to vote with our feet. Rockport: hint: 8.5 wide
  12. In a Marketing class several years ago, the professor showed a television ad featuring a car that was not available for purchase. It had a similar effect to the Rockport ad. It is disheartening that Marketing & Manufacturing don't talk and that Marketers don't learn from past mistakes.
  13. [...] you have been reading Limeduck like I have, you might have read about a Rockport print ad showing shoes that are not available for purchase.  As I noted on that website, this has happened [...]
  14. Micah
    The same thing has happened to me with a pair of Rockports featured in an ad in sports illustrated. I have not spoken to anyone with rockport but cannot find the same shoes anywhere.
  15. Indeed, the subsequent issue of Fast Company had another ad with a different shoe, but I couldn't find that shoe on the Rockport website either. Will have to bring it to the store again...

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