Is Crocs Equating Disliking Their Shoes with Racism?

Is hating an ugly shoe the same as hating someone because of the color of their skin? According to the new ad campaign from Crocs, which features celebrities like Drew Barrymore and John Cena talking about inclusivity and embracing difference, the answer is: kinda. (Of course, in reality, the answer is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT.)

“With its new approach, Crocs is moving away from treating the shoe as just pragmatic footwear to an object with more profound meaning,” according to Fast Company. “Crocs is sending a message about culture,” Michelle Poole, Croc’s head of global merchandising, said in the story. “Our vision is for everybody to be comfortable in their own shoes.”

Until now, Crocs has “embraced the lovers,” but it hasn’t taken on their haters directly, Fast Company notes. But in the face of declining sales — in the fourth quarter of 2016, sales fell by 10 percent — they’ve decided to try and bring customers out of the shadows with their “Come as You Are” campaign.

The campaign features celebrities, like John Cena and Drew Barrymore, imploring all “one of a kinds and creative minds” to “stand up, stand out and come together by celebrating our differences,” before also asking them to “come as [they] are.”

(For the record, they don’t mention where we’re going, but I can’t imagine it’s anywhere in public, because Crocs.)

And while the idea isn’t Kendall-Jenner-Pepsi-offensive, the story notes that the ads do feel a little like Hillary Clinton’s antiracism ad campaigns, which is weird and a bit co-optive. Yes, people should feel comfortable wearing whatever shoes they want, but that fight shouldn’t use the same language as the fight for equality.

Opining aside, whatever they’re doing might actually be working. Not only did Christopher Kane and Balenciaga use modified, bedazzled versions in recent runway shows, but Crocs stores saw a “12 percent increase in foot traffic” during back-to-school season.

You can read more about it at Fast Company.

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