Morning Brew - ☕ If the shoe fits

Inside Rothy’s sell-out strategy.
April 01, 2024

Marketing Brew


It’s Monday. Confectionaries—aka anything that’ll have the dentist on speed-dial—generate more than $5 billion in sales around Easter time, according to the National Confectioners Association’s aptly named State of Treating report.

In today’s edition:

—Katie Hicks, Alyssa Meyers


Goody two-shoes

a person modeling Rothy's square Mary Jane shoes, which have sold out five times Rothy’s

Many millennials and elder Gen Zs remember the perils and pain—i.e., the blisters and lack of support—of the mid-2000s ballet flat. So, when news started to spread that they were back in style over the last couple of years, it made sense that some people tuned it out.

It also made sense that when posts, videos, and articles promoting Rothy’s flats as being comfortable enough to walk in for miles began to circulate, others tuned in.

That was very much the intention, Jamie Gersch, CMO of Rothy’s, told us. Through a combination of gifting and events, mixed with marketing messages centered on comfort, style, and durability, Rothy’s put its Square Mary Jane flats squarely on the map.

“In early ’23, we’re like, ‘We have the Square Mary Jane. We have to…capitalize on what’s happening in the marketplace today,’” Gersch said.

The hype around the Square Mary Jane reached a point where some wondered if the shoe was actually as popular in real life as it seemed to be online. While the brand declined to share exact sales data, it saw sales increase sixfold on the Black Square Mary Jane last year compared to 2022. In that time, the shoe sold out three times, and, at one point, it amassed a waitlist of more than 8,500 people, according to the company.

Not falling flat: According to Gersch, Rothy’s began following the balletcore trend near the end of 2022, right around the time she joined the company. Since then, she said the biggest change she’s made has been investing more heavily in social and content creation to help reach the brand’s core demographics, including on-the-go parents, older travelers, and “young achievers.” Much of the content the brand puts out is paid content, not organic, she said.

Since last summer, TikTok has served as a “huge driver” of sales for the brand: “It’s really just taken on a life of its own,” Gersch said.

Continue reading here.—KH



Hot off the presses


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Ticking time

TikTok lock ban Francis Scialabba

Spring: that time of year when flowers bloom, brackets are busted, and politicians weigh a TikTok ban.

The movement to get the country off TikTok appears to be gaining momentum after the House passed a bill earlier this month that would require the app’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell its stake in the app or cease operations in the US—much to creators’ chagrin, even though, if the bill becomes law, the process could take months or even years to complete.

For brands that have made their mark on the platform, the general vibe appears to be wait and see, though, similar to what creators told us last year, many brand marketers are keeping their eyes on Instagram and YouTube as potential alternatives. A recent eMarketer analysis found that Meta and Google, which own Instagram and YouTube, respectively, could stand to make billions in incremental ad revenue if the TikTok ban becomes law.

“We feel confident that whatever happens to TikTok in the US, we’ll continue to find success with our social marketing strategy because we’ve invested in building our content creation abilities across multiple platforms,” Katherine Chan, marketing director at Duolingo, which has 10.8 million followers on TikTok, told Marketing Brew in an email.

Platform pivot: Should a ban actually happen, many brands plan to look to existing short-form video platforms.

“We have a lot of fun on TikTok. On Instagram, we have a little fun,” said Melissa Palmer, co-founder and CEO of beauty brand Osea Malibu, which has 47k followers on TikTok. “I would imagine that there would be some shifts in our content strategy on Instagram, and maybe something like YouTube Shorts would actually have its day in the sun.”

Read more here.—KH




Leagues Cup 2023 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The latest Major League Soccer (MLS) season, which kicked off in February, is off to a good start, at least on the business side: Sponsorship revenue, season ticket sales, and merchandise sales have all been on the rise, according to the league.

Is the Messi effect at play? His impact on Inter Miami and MLS overall has been well documented since he joined the league last season. Jen Cramer, EVP of partnership marketing at MLS, said Messi is just one of a few reasons why the league is seeing growth across the board.

“I’ve been here quite a while, but I’ve never seen this type of partnership activation,” she told Marketing Brew. “A lot of it is because people are starting to recognize the impact that soccer has, and how desirable the fan base is.”

Juggling sponsors: League partnership revenue was up by 17% from 2022 to 2023, per MLS, and individual club sponsorship revenue increased 15% so far this year compared to last.

Continue reading here.—AM




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French Press Morning Brew

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Festival season: Absolut Vodka is running a metaverse campaign tied to Coachella on a platform called Spatial. Party like it’s 2021.

Testing, testing: Linkedin is testing a brand-new short-form video feed.

Big fan: YouTube has rolled out “members-only” Shorts, a way for creators to share exclusive content with their paying subscribers.

Research revamp: Need a li’l more confidence to solve your organization’s strategy headaches? Gradient is pioneering new market research methods that’ll take your marketing game up a notch. Subscribe to their Trendlines newsletter to see those methods in action.*

*A message from our sponsor.


football play illustrations on billboards on buildings Francis Scialabba

Executive moves across the industry.

  • Jeff Stamp has joined Anomaly as managing partner and chief creative officer after nearly two years as head of brand and creative for the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand at TikTok.
  • Hy-Vee, the Iowa-based grocery chain, hired Saatchi & Saatchi X’s former president and CEO, Jessica Hendrix, as CMO of Hy-Vee and president of its retail media network, RedMedia.
  • Havas New York hired Taras Wayner, formerly president of creative platforms and solutions at GroupM, as creative director.


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