Smart Marketing: Christian Louboutin’s Red-Soled Shoes

I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s absolute genius that French shoe designer Christian Louboutin had the brainstorm to paint the soles of his shoe designs in a bright red color, to set them apart and to advertise them in a subtle way — without even any wording or message. If you ever watched Oprah before she took her show off the air, many times you would have noticed the soles of her expensive Louboutin shoes in the wide shots shown on TV. Before Louboutin and his smart marketing, everyone’s shoe soles were simply black or beige. But Louboutin took his shoes one step further, and was able to trademark the red soles as his brand – and his brand alone. Watch any of the late-night talk shows, and chances are, you will see a wealth of celebrity women wearing these famous scarlet-soled shoes that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. The red soles became his trademark, his gimmick, his logo, if you will. While I believe that such expensive shoes are yet another sign of wretched excess in this country, I do applaud this marketing. As a marketing expert who specializes in marketing for small business, and marketing solutions and marketing strategies, the use of color is smart indeed. After all, smart marketing and advertising is finding a new niche – and filling it.

Recently, the U. S. Appeals Court in Manhattan overturned a lower-court decision, and they ruled that Louboutin’s red sole is in fact entitled to trademark protection. That means that no other shoe manufacturer can use the red sole as its marketing gimmick.
But how about someone else coming up with a trademark blue or canary-yellow sole? Or etching their product name on the sole itself? It reminds me of one of my favorite marketing techniques. It involved Vacation.com etching their name on the soles of flip-flop sandals, so that when people wore these sandals in the sand, the name Vacation.com was footprinted in the sand at beach resorts. Brilliant!

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