Carhartts fall campaign taps Jason Momoa to help communicate brand legacy
By Rakin Azfar
November 15, 2016
Jason Momoa directed Carhartt's Fall spot
American workwear purveyor Carhartt is introducing its Fall lineup with a commercial produced and directed by Jason Momoa that features all the slick production value to which the former Game of Thrones actor is accustomed.
The campaign is in anticipation of the brands new Full Swing line of workwear, which features a significant range of motion while still retaining Carhartts signature style and protection. It will also run on digital, mobile and social arenas, in addition to an in-store presence at Carhartts many retail locations.
Carhartt produced a high quality video to help introduce it's new line of movement-facilitating workwear that will likely resonate with many of the brand's fans who view the piece, but actually getting views may be an issue, said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. At one minute in length, the piece isn't really optimized for snackability, meaning it's not truly optimal for social and mobile.
Carhartt would do well to leverage other campaign assets, like still images, or shorter video edits on social, which hopefully compel viewers to watch the full video.
The spot features instances of Carhartts utility over time, all of which have contributed to the brands longstanding legacy of reliable American workwear since 1889. The spot is narrated from to point of view of Hamilton Carhartt, the companys founder, and is voiced by actor John C. McGinley.
Mr. Momoas commercial takes the viewer through a variety of locales, from aboard steam engines in 1889 to behind a horse-drawn plow in 1925 to infrastructure construction in the winter of 1975, all the way to a horse wrangler in present day. All parties involved are decked out in Carhartts selection throughout the corresponding years.
The commercial takes the viewer through images in Carhartt's history
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner also makes an appearance in the commercial, wearing the Full Swing line and pointing a bow and arrow.
Carhartt's national campaign will appear during several live, premium college football games and will also have a strong presence online and across its various social media channels.
"The majority of our digital media will be mobile placements, since both our younger and older consumer segments rely heavily on their mobile device while out in the field," said Adam Wilson, director of brand marketing experience at Carhartt. "Online video works well for us because we have such a rich, authentic story to tell. So, well be running a substantial amount of 30-second online video on various networks, but also on platforms like Facebook."
"Weve also put additional focus on placements that are highly contextual," he said. "For example: our commercial that will run on The Weather Channel will resonate regardless of what the forecast is'Carhartt Full Swing, engineered to outmaneuver wind, rain, sleet, snow, and any excuse.'
"And since sportsspecifically NCAA Footballindex very high with our audience, weve secured a sponsorship of fantasy football on CBSSports.com."
The commercial marks the fourth consecutive seasonal marketing campaign produced and directed by Mr. Momoa and his production company, Pride of Gypsies. Mr. Momoa and his team worked on Carhartts spring campaign earlier this year, as well as its fall and spring campaigns in 2015.
The spot underscores Carhartt's protean durability
Production went on for close to a month, on location in settings such as Detroit, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and California, and as well Newfoundland, Canada, to capture the story of Hamilton Carhartt, who started selling product by horse-and-wagon in 1889.
Not one to skim on authenticity, the Carhartt archive supplied actual quotes, newsletters, and other marketing materials from Hamilton Carhartt to craft the commercials script in the founders own words.
Carhartt can't expect a huge number of complete views on this one minute video; it might be better to edit the video into shorter vignettes, which lead back to a page with the full video where the viewer can be drawn in further if they so desire, Mr. McNally said. Ultimately though this video does not seem to be targeted at mobile or social; it has much more of a TV ad feel, which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it means Carhartt may need to modify the assets if the brand intends to push this messaging to social and/or mobile.
Mobile-optimized video has been a hot commodity in marketing. American Express recently called on Shaquille ONeal for a series of digital videos that feature the basketball icon and celebrity guests shopping at small businesses (see story
And the shift is not exclusive to marketing. Americas newspaper of record, The New York Times, staked a spot at the vanguard of the changing media landscape, partnering with Samsung to produce a daily 360-degree video series (see story
Do workwear customers buy on mobile? One answer is yes, but it's worth differentiating among workwear niches, Mr. McNally said. Carhartt produces workwear-revival lines that are targeted at millennials and fashion-forward young men (such as it's WIP line), but it also sells utility clothing to professional laborers and people who do not consider workwear a fashion statement.
"Well, let's face it, commercials have always battled the short attention span of the consumerand it's even harder when you're dealing with someone who's watching it on their phone," said Brian Bennett, vice president of brand creative at Carhartt. "There's a few ways to beat that. No matter the media device, we've learned that explosive, detailed, rich cinematic story telling always captures the audience's attention.
"And since we have a legendary story to tell, it needed to have great cinematic value to bring our rich history to life in an authentic way," he said. "We wanted to show our audience things they normally don't see so they'd stay with us for 30 seconds: It's why we found a train from 1889; It's why we studied what trench war looked like in World War I and its why we went to Alaska to film scenes that represent the building of the Alaskan Pipeline.
"We sweated every detail because we care about the making of our commercials, just as we sweat the details that go into the making of our products. People love the details of our commercials, and it's what we hope makes them curious to learn more about our brand. That is our hope: that these 30 seconds of rich, iconic Carhartt history would make you want to learn more about how we've always made the right gear for the right job; and why we still do today."