Osiris is ramping up its marketing strategies lately, strengthening its crew by bringing back original founders Tony Chen as President and Doug Weston as VP, and also with the recent addition of Hans Molenkamp as Global Marketing Director. With that has come a shift in the thinking behind the brand, including a renewed investment in multi-media, with a specific push behind video development. Back in September, Osiris launched a commercial featuring several team riders including PLG, Corey Duffel, and Daryl Tocco, as well as graffiti artist Risk and Del The Funky Homosapien. Within one week, the commercial received 400,000 hits online and was airing on Fuel TV and MTV. Osiris plans to roll out longer clips from the commercial, filmed by acclaimed Hollywood Director Nicholaus Goossen, which will feature break out pieces from Duffel and Tocco.
TransWorld Business recently caught up with Chen, Weston, Molenkamp, and original founder and Chief Creative Officer Brian Reid to find out more about producing the commercial, product development, sales and what the future holds.
Tell us a little about the concept and idea behind the commercial?
Brian Reid: The whole reason we did the commercial the way we did – it wasn’t focused on product, it was focused on brand image and lifestyle. So you have the black and white with the film noir, and we popped it with the corporate orange, but it was really accessible. And like with Corey – obviously he was hurt, but we wanted him to go out and do something that people could actually go out and do. We wanted him to go out and bomb a hill. Not everyone can flip in and flip out, that’s very difficult and actually intimidating. Even with Daryl’s trick, the trick wasn’t the hardest, it was just shot well. The end result was, we wanted to focus on the brand image and make sure it wasn’t limited to just one thing or one person.
Was that your concept or the director’s concept?
BR: It was more our concept. Nick Goossen is a Hollywood director. He is not necessarily a skateboarder. He gets the culture. That’s where Hans and I did our job to educate him on the shoots and certain things you can or can’t do.
How long had you been working on that with him?
BR: We worked with him from February to May.
That’s killer that the response has been so overwhelmingly positive.
BR: We’re talking skateboarders here, so there’s a lot of hate—the fact that it’s been overwhelmingly positive [is great].
So, what’s next?
HM: A lot of the stuff we are developing is pushing [things] as a lifestyle brand, and not really being pigeonholed in one genre. Obviously it’s rooted in skateboarding and skateboarding has been a major part of our DNA, but its spread – everyone knows the success of the brand has come from multiple types of shoes that aren’t all skate specific. We are looking at how we can develop something that is a lot larger. This isn’t something that’s happened overnight. We transitioned a long time ago.
Now that we’ve created a commercial, we care committed to doing more of those for next year. This was the test and the response has been so overwhelming that we’ve started to budget for more. I think that’s just going to show our commitment and where we position ourselves. We are more than profitable this year and we are going to keep rocking and rolling.
What do you think is responsible for Osiris gaining a larger reach?
I think the design is a part of it, and the end consumer who is purchasing the stuff. There has been a big departure from “I only wear skate shoes” [amongst skaters]. They have more lifestyle influences. We’ve had success in that area for a long time. I think it’s good because it spreads the word that you don’t have to wear [just] a vulcanized shoe.
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How long have you been expanding into that space?
BR: A few years. It’s actually something we’ve been building on, especially with Duffel’s new shoe, The Sophistic.
HM – It’s actually to a point where we’ve created a sub category that we are going to launch in the next catalog called The Recovery collection. It’s made for our pro skaters, who, after skating around New York City, want to walk around, and grab some food. We all know that vulcanized for comfort and support isn’t the best thing in the world and a chiropractor probably agrees. It’s so these guys can wear our stuff after they skate and it’s actually aimed towards recovery, resting your feet, and reflexology.
BR: Do you think Koston goes to Nike and complains that they make women’s equestrian boots? No, he’s probably going in asking for a pair for his wife.
As we start to grow as individuals, we start to create products that go along with our lifestyles and what we are into, whether it be music or whatever, and that reflects into other genres of shoes.
How’s everything going on the Vulcanized side of the business?
BR: Actually we just did our numbers and Vulc is doing surprisingly well.
Tony Chen: This is the first season we can think of that we’ve sold more Vulc than cupsole.
Tell us more about updating your senior management team.
BR: We brought Hans back for a reason. The owners came back and took control of the company because we thought other people could run our company, but we realized that we knew best. It’s like bringing the band back together. Its been great getting Tony Chen as president and us on board again and being fully in charge of our company and our destination.
HM: Tony is in the driver’s seat and making sure that the day-to-day nuts and bolts are there. Doug and Brian have carved out positions that really focus on the core essentials of making those components work. I work day to day with Tony, Doug, and Brian on ideas, creativity, and everything else they want to try to and implement and make sure it becomes reality.
How has your focus changed and that of the company since you guys became more involved?
BR: The one thing we’ve been more conscious of is taking care of ourselves, and in turn taking care of the employees. As we’ve learned a lot about business over the years, we’ve also learned a lot about ourselves and feeling good overall and in the work place. To bring it full circle, the original founders had this vision and this vision is why I feel we’ve had success. We all trust each other and know our strengths and weaknesses.
How are you dealing with the smaller core accounts?
TC: To have relevance you need to support the local core. We have grassroots programs with them, which include special pricing structures, having unique shoes for them that you won’t see at bigger nationwide chains. [As well as] having rider programs through sales reps who deal directly with the accounts.
BR: [We have] our tier system, as well. If it’s in Tier-one that’s our core accounts. The Tier ones get Duffels, Caswells, J.T’s—when they come out they are going to core only.
TC: Then there are other channels that we don’t deal with like mass market or sporting goods chains – we don’t deal with either of those yet, but eventually for our growth plan we hope to be at a level where we need to sell into those categories for growth. There are certain people who have been able to do it. DC has done it, Vans— there are certain brands who can pull it off. But I think it’s still – as much as the sport and the industry has grown – there is still that stigma when you sell to those last couple of tiers. Unless you have the marketing dollars to really offset the haters, it’s definitely a little bit of a risk.
What’s happening with Osiris Snow?
BR: We aren’t making snowboard boots, but we are making seasonal , waterproof boots, and that is allowing us to be in that category.
TC: We need to find the right personnel. We don’t have the level of commitment that we do with skate, FMX or BMX.