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Timberland launches marketing campaign to drive mobile commerce

September 15, 2009

Timberland enters the mobile commerce arena

Timberland enters the mobile commerce arena

Timberland has rolled out an integrated marketing campaign  that uses mobile to create a dialogue with young city-dwelling consumers.

The program supports Timberland’s modern, ecoconscious Fall 2009 footwear collections and includes iPhone and BlackBerry applications and games, interactive billboards, branded videos and commercials on Hulu. The company is also using customizable Pandora radio stations, in-store promotions and retail windows, reverse sidewalk graffiti and out-of-home advertising.

“While other outdoor brands have dabbled in the mobile space, we believe Expedition Timberland is the first app that connects casual city-dwelling lifestyles with a passion for the outdoors,” said Katelyn Nugent, emerging media strategist at mediahub from Mullen, Boston.

The Timberland Co. designs, engineers and markets footwear, apparel and accessories for consumers who value the outdoors and their time in it.

Timberland worked with mediahub from advertising agency Mullen and mobile marketing firm Ansible Mobile to launch the Expedition Timberland mobile application.

The agency’s clients include Timberland, LendingTree, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and the NHL’s Boston Bruins.

“Timberland is looking to continue attracting young, hip, urban consumers with active outdoor lifestyles via a new campaign that includes everything from iPhone and BlackBerry apps to branded content for Hulu and custom Pandora playlists,” said Larry Harris, CEO of Ansible, New York.

The iPhone application is designed to give on-the-go city dwellers everything they need—from music to maps to hiking trail suggestions and a game—to find outdoor adventures that are close to home, while letting them peek at and buy Timberland gear along the way.

The Timberland campaign has launched in the United States, Italy and Britain.

The Expedition Timberland application for iPhone and BlackBerry promotes the new Timberland Mountain Athletics and Earthkeepers collections by enabling outdoor enthusiasts to discover adventures in big cities.

The customized city application is available now in six U.S. markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Denver and Minneapolis.

Expedition Timberland guides users to hiking trails, neighborhood walks, secret spots for relaxing and the best city views, among other outdoor-oriented activities.

Ten additional markets will be added to the Expedition Timberland application beginning in November and into early 2010.

Through a voting mechanism built into the application, consumers will have a say about which preselected markets and special features are added to the mobile media program.

Additional creative elements for the application that are not market-specific include a game for the iPhone called Timber Trail that invites players to select the appropriate Timberland gear in order to overcome various obstacles.

In addition, there is a music component for the iPhone that creates a playlist and updates with fresh music selections each week.

A gear-section feature provides product information within the application.

There is also a WAP site with a full Timberland product catalog featuring mapping and search functionality.

Both the application and WAP site have click-to-call functionality that makes it easy to buy Timberland product and locate stores.

The Expedition Timberland application for iPhone launched Sept. 14. The application for BlackBerry will launch on Sept. 21.

“The BlackBerry and iPhone demographics differ in terms of overall mobile usage patterns, but the most important consideration was that these were the top two smartphones among Timberland’s target audience,” said JiYoung Kim, vice president of marketing at Ansible.

“We worked extensively with Mullen to develop a holistic mobile usage profile of Timberland’s core target of younger, city-dwelling consumers who are passionate about outdoor activities,” she said.

“While the iPhone clearly offered a robust and popular platform for bringing utility and entertainment to this target, we also recognized that BlackBerry holds a larger smartphone share in this audience.”

By definition, being active, outdoors and on the go entails being sporadically exposed to traditional media.

Mobile on the other hand, is a constant, always-available companion to these consumers. To active consumers, mobile is often their only connection to information and entertainment.

“The strongest advantages the mobile channel provides just fit well with Timberland’s brand and its values,” Ms. Kim said.

Multichannel advertising
The Expedition Timberland application is being supported across multiple media, including display ads across mobile Web and within other applications, in-store signage and print ads.

Timberland partnered with Britain-based creative agency Leagas Delaney to create the new Bait advertising campaign to support Timberland Mountain Athletics, the company’s new line of environmentally-conscious, multisport outdoor shoes for young adventurers in and around cities. 

The Bait television spot, shot by Lynn Fox, breaks across Britain, Italy and the U.S. this month and shows a trail runner wearing Timberland Mountain Athletics footwear being chased by dangerous animals on a run through the forest.

The chase is accompanied by the adrenaline-pumping song “Don’t Give Up,” performed by the Noisettes, an up-and-coming British band, and ends with the tag-line, “If you’re not fast you’re food.”

A print campaign planned for Britain plays off the same Bait theme.

The American TV ad campaign will focus on Boston, Denver and Minneapolis with an emphasis on primetime, sports and late-night programming.

This will expand online with digital sponsorships on Hulu and a create-your-own playlist integration on Pandora.

In addition, the campaign will include a new out-of-home campaign featuring reverse graffiti and interactive billboards, as well as a full station-domination takeover of Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, and wrapped Green Line subway trains in Boston for one month.

In-store promotions, window and point-of-sale displays with a call-to-action urging consumers to download the mobile applications will also be featured worldwide.

There is not an SMS keyword/short code at launch, but it is under consideration for 2010. 

To introduce the Timberland Mountain Athletics Fall collection to journalists in New York, the team hosted a series of city adventures in Central Park led by young outdoor guides.

Few brands and agencies are seamlessly integrating mobile into an overall campaign, according to Ansible.

“The mobile component of Timberland’s new campaign is a true collaborative and well-integrated effort with contributions from Mullen, Ansible and the brand,” Ms. Kim said.

“At the outset, there was recognition from all parties that emerging technologies—mobile, social and digital content—were fast becoming part of Timberland consumers’ lives,” she said.

The challenge is to become part of that conversation, rather than an interruption—and simply having a presence in those channels is not enough, according to Ansible.

“The information, services and entertainment provided through the mobile application offers real value to Timberland consumers and aligns nicely with the spirit of the brand,” Ms. Kim said.

“This is Timberland’s first major investment into mobile, and a tremendous amount of effort has gone into the mobile strategy, beyond just the mobile applications, to ensure a long-term relationship with consumers via the channel,” she said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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