Boot maker Justin Brands names Social Media VP
Anton Chigurh, the villain from the 2007 film “No Country for Old Men.” didn’t have much time for Facebook (or a decent haircut) during his killing spree, but the same hasn’t been the case for Western-wear leader Justin Brands’ real-life customers.
The company, whose Tony Lama division designed Chigurh’s footwear, is boosting its successful social media presence with Lisa Lankes’s promotion to the newly created position of vice president of communications, licensing and social media, according to the Fort Worth, Texas Star-Telegram
Lankes started with the company in 1994 as an advertising coordinator and worked up to director of corporate communications, before taking responsibility for the company’s licensing program earlier this year.
Lankes and new VP of Human Resources Donna Lasater are the first women to join Justin’s executive team in its entire 131-year history.
In addition to Tony Lama, Justin Brands manufactures and markets Western-style footwear under the Nocona, Chippewa and Justin names. The company is a subsidiary of conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway.
Lankes told DailyVista that Justin Brands
is extending social media across its entire portfolio and some sub-brands after its Justin Bent Rail collection launch – promoted almost entirely through Facebook, Twitter and MySpace – exceeded goals by 30 percent last year.
Along with its 18 Twitter and Facebook accounts, Justin is extending its online strategies to its retailers; many recently started using social media, primarily through Facebook and Twitter.
“We have put together a social media calendar and have been working closely with several of our retailers to further engage our consumers through fun promotions and special discounts, and supporting their efforts into this realm,” Lankes said.
Social media is becoming even more important as online sales provide a larger percentage of retailers’ business, she added.
“We want to support that by driving traffic to their sites,” Lankes said. “We’re working closely with our dealers to ensure that when the consumer lands on that retailer’s site that traffic is converted to a sale.”
Justin still utilizes some traditional media – print, billboards and radio – but has shifted marketing dollars towards social media after its success. The Western industry was skeptical that companies could engage consumers online, although Justin believed otherwise and its confidence has been validated, our source stated.
“We found out the Western consumer was already using social media and when we invited them to be a part of what we were doing, they were happy to join us,” Lankes said. “Now a lot of companies have jumped into it.”
Justin’s core market is consumers familiar with the Western lifestyle, who usually purchase at least one or two pairs of boots. While the company has lowered the average age of its consumer base since developing social media, there is a growing population of customers ages 35 and older who are reaching Justin online.
Lankes’s promotion gives her additional social media and licensing responsibilities. The company is looking for licensing opportunities across several categories: leather goods, pet products, outerwear and hunting accessories, which will serve as an organic extension of its brands.
“We work very hard to find the right partner to design and develop products that will continue to provide the consumer with the quality and value they’ve come to count on from one of our brands whether it’s being manufactured by us or one of our licensees,” our source stated.
She continued that licensed products provide opportunities for new distribution channels that may not make sense with its core product line.
Justin is satisfied with the two separate advertising and public relations firms it has used for several years, but Lankes stated she is interested in finding a licensing agency to shop opportunities for its brands.
“I don’t really need an agency to manage the program – just to bring us possible partnerships for a flat fee,” she said. “But most of the deals aren’t structured this way. I would be interested in speaking to someone if this were a possible scenario for them.”
According to The List database, Justin Brands has used San Antonio-based Inventiva for its multicultural marketing since 2005 and Fort Worth-based Balcom Agency for its print since 1998.
The Nielsen Company reported that Justin Brands spent $80,000 on measured media in 2009. About $36,000 was spent on spot radio ads and about $30,000 was spent on outdoor ads.
610 West Daggett Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Vice President, Communications, Licensing & Social Media
Chief Executive Officer