A Look Inside Airwalk’s Already Famous Marketing Campaign

In May, Airwalk partnered with Brooklyn-based creative agency Project Fathom to produce the documentary Already Famous, which is set to be released this Fall and will chronicle the lives of several skate ambassadors and professional skateboarders in the streets of NYC as a tribute to the city’s urban skate scene. As part of the behind the scenes marketing campaign, Airwalk will be releasing snippets of the video and imagery from the documentary and hosting a series of events designed to raise awareness around the urban skate culture. Here’s a look at the first video, released today, featuring pro Rob Campbell:

"Airwalk has a strong tradition of supporting all kinds of emerging skate communities," says Bruce Pettet, president of Collective Licensing International, which owns and manages the Airwalk brand. "This expanding urban skate movement is an important story to tell, and Fathom is the perfect partner to chronicle the many inspiring stories and faces of urban skate."

As part of a more in-depth look at the movement and documentary on the urban skate scene, we checked in with Eric Dreyer, VP of Brand Management at Airwalk, as well as the film’s brainchild Mitchell Ware of Project Fathom, and Already Famous ambassador and NYC skate veteran Alex Corporan, who recently published Full Bleed, a collection of thirty years of skate photography from  the city streets.

Find out why Airwalk is backing this project from Dreyer:

Eric Dreyer, Airwalk VP of Brand Management

What does it mean for the brand to be involved in this movement to support the urban skate scene in NYC?

What's going on in the urban skate movement is particularly compelling to us right now, and is reminiscent of what was going on in our early days on the West Coast. The excitement and outlier sensibility that seems to define the New York City skate scene right now is just testament that skateboarding is still young, growing, and entwined with street culture. We've seen the growth of skate shops, parks, and skating programs in Manhattan and it’s all validation to the fact that New York has really become a Mecca for skate – it really speaks to the sport's reach. Airwalk's involvement is a natural progression for the brand, but it's also our way of letting this new generation of skaters know that Airwalk is still here and not going anywhere.

What does Airwalk hope to accomplish from a brand perspective with this campaign?

The campaign is something new and fresh, and as a brand we never want to be static – this opportunity was ideal and we wanted to be a part of a groundbreaking opportunity. We also love the idea of connecting with this new generation of skaters involved in this emerging culture. Through grassroots events and a strong digital component, we're discovering ways to not only reach, but connect with this new demographic. It's an exciting shift to witness – and at the same time very similar culturally to what was going on 25-plus years ago.

We're trying to tell an urban story that's really vibrant in skate right now, but doesn't necessarily have a big stage. With the campaign, including the great imagery, the ambassadors, and the film, we want to open eyes to the different characters and communities who define skate. We're capturing this through individuals who represent the movement. The film itself isn't your average series of skate tricks. It's a series of vignettes of the outlier heroes in the game who should be celebrated.

We've also partnered with Alex Corporan as a program ambassador – and anyone in skate knows Alex is an icon of NYC skate. It's great to have his eye and viewpoint on this project because it helps us to keep an authentic voice when speaking to this skate community. The community knows him and they trust him.

What sort of product will come as a result from this campaign – if any?

We're working on a limited edition Already Famous ONE that will launch in August on the Airwalk site. The ONE is a classic Airwalk silhouette and the Already Famous shoe will be an exclusive design/ color. We are also working to do a women's collaboration shoe to coincide with the Already Famous campaign late this fall.

What can we expect to see within the next six to 12 months from Airwalk? How long will this campaign last – will it continue to grow and evolve in the coming year? 

The campaign will last through the rest of 2012, culminating with the premiere of the documentary late this fall. It will definitely evolve in the coming months – the crew is focused on getting exceptional footage of the skaters through the remainder of the summer and of course, the launch of the film is something we are excited about. Beyond the Already Famous campaign, we will continue supporting our athletes as they compete this summer and will have a few product drops for our exclusive online store that we are excited about.

Click through to page two to get insight on this project from the mastermind behind the project’s conception and development, Project Fathom Creative Director Mitchell Ware.

Mitch Ware, Project Fathom

Mitch Ware, Project Fathom

Mitchell Ware, creative director at Project Fathom and the creative force behind the Already Famous campaign, says  he has witnessed a dramatic cultural shift in skateboarding and the lifestyle that accompanies it over the past several years, which is part of the reason he was prompted to begin the project a few years ago. “These are kids that have done everything from starting companies and starring in movies, to signing major record deals, all independently,” says Ware. “I wanted to develop something that acknowledged and supported that movement. Airwalk is a pioneering brand that was a part of the foundation of every skater I’ve met, myself included. The Already Famous project will simply build on that legacy." We caught up with Ware for more:

Why does working with Airwalk and the urban skate scene resonate with you?

Already Famous is something I was programming for a while. It has definitely been a brainchild of mine. I wanted to partner the campaign with an original skateboarding brand that could validate this message.

Original skate brands carry a unique cultural resonance that everyone remembers, maybe from an old ad on MTV or from a magazine. Anyone in skate you talk to will tell you Airwalk was their first skate shoe hands down. I loved that. I wanted the challenge of working with a brand that wasn’t entirely overexposed yet has that nostalgia. It makes the entire collaboration that much more shocking and unexpected.

What’s the main purpose/goal of the project and what do you hope to accomplish when the documentary is released in the fall? 

I just wanted to tell uncommon stories about uncommon people. I watched the climate of skate change so dramatically and furiously. I was dead set on creating something that acknowledged that. I think the original message of Skateboarding was a shelter for the uncommon, the outcasts, and the authentic. I hope that people will see that message through these stories. I also want people to make the connection of that message to Airwalk’s unique history in skate.

Why do you think it’s important to get this message out about the urban skate scene, and how are you doing it in a unique way that sets it apart from other skate docs that have been made?

I think there are a lot of screaming voices out there that don’t always get heard. We have all been friends with brilliant or amazing people that are often so interesting they are overlooked. I think this film is different because we did our absolute best to tell true stories and really put the microscope on how hard these kids hustle within a culture that's so often exploited. This film makes you realize how frustrating it is to find validation in a world that's so Xerox copied. From being a gay punk with Tourette’s, or being signed, traveling the world and still living at home, or being a 16-year-old who spends every waking hour skating hoping to turn pro. Beyond just skate tricks, this film is about the lifestyle that surrounds skaters in these environments and what it takes to stay in love with it.

What’s been the most challenging part about telling the story through film?

You can’t force documentary film making. The challenging part is breaking through to people on camera. Often when you’re filming people who have never been on camera before, they will produce caricatures of themselves. It takes a while to get to the essence of who someone truly is.

 Follow the jump to get Alex Corporan’s view on Already Famous.

Alex Corporan. Photo: Mel D. Cole, Villageslum

In 2010, Alex Corporan published his book Full Bleed, a comprehensive look at the past thirty years in the urban skate scene in NYC. Today, Corporan continues to support the scene and tell the stories of the skaters who are making a name for themselves in the streets of New York.  As program ambassador for the Already Famous documentary and campaign, Corporan weighed in on why he thinks this project will continue to promote the scene by appealing to the youth demographic who “just want to have fun.”

How and why did you get involved in the Already Famous project? What’s your role in the project?

I got involved as an ambassador for the Already Famous project because of Project Fathom. We have been talking for years about this project and it finally became a reality when Airwalk came in to back it up. They got me stoked because first of all I used to skate for Airwalk back in the late 80s and early 90s and second the Already Famous team (Nolan Rosemond and Mitchell Ware) are rad. I love their energy and passion.

Full Bleed is a look at 30 years in the NY skate scene – what did releasing that book mean to you? How have you continued to support the local scene and how will you continue to tell that story through this project?

Full Bleed meant everything to me. Making Full Bleed came from the questions people ask me that didn’t understand NY skateboarding. I wanted to show in the book, the city is where we skate and the five boroughs is our playground. We never had a real skate park until the past couple of years which is awesome now, but back then all we had at the time was the elements that existed.

I continue to support the scene by putting together events and guiding the new up-and-coming skaters by showing them skating is about having a good time and whatever the future holds it will happen naturally.

What do you hope to accomplish as ambassador to this project, and what other projects do you have in the works to help grow the sport and keep the urban skate scene alive in NYC? 

I just want to continue to support skateboarding for life and have everyone around me enjoy it. I feel with Already Famous and Airwalk it’s going in the right direction because they’re not trying to claim they are trying to take over. They just want everyone to have fun, skate and have a good time doing it. The best thing about the project is that they are using all the elements like photography, filming, promoting having fun etc. We are all a talented crew so we want everyone to utilize what they have and contribute to what skateboarding is about.

How do you hope this project will specifically help get more youth involved in skateboarding and keep the NYC scene alive?

Skateboarding is about having fun overall. Just go out there and do what you want to do. That’s how you keep the youth involved. All you need to know is how to push around and Ollie. Utilize your other talents because skateboarding is about expression. Everything else will just happen from there. I just want to show the NYC scene that all you need to do is have a good time doing what you want to do and don’t get discouraged by what you seeing on TV, YouTube or any other media outlets out there. JUST SKATE. We have skate parks now and we have everything we want, so there is no excuse. Having fun is what skateboarding is all about.