Bombas Sees Opportunity in Mission-Driven OOH Strategy

Bombas Sees Opportunity in Mission-Driven OOH Strategy

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When Randy Goldberg and David Heath launched Bombas back in 2013, the direct-to-consumer sock startup was primarily known for its focus on charity — famously donating a pair of socks for every pair sold. Although Bombas has remained dedicated to that mission in the years since, the company has also expanded to become a complete apparel brand with t-shirts, sweatpants, and kids’ offerings in its impressive lineup. 

Having focus on charity has been good for business at Bombas. The company reached over $100 million in revenue by 2018, with 40% year-over-year growth between 2019 and 2020. But with so much discussion happening around Bombas’ success as a digitally native apparel brand, the company’s original mission and focus on supporting homeless shelters moved into the background, in the eyes of some consumers.

A new multi-faceted out–of-home campaign launched in partnership with Quan Media Group is changing that, and making it clear that Bombas is just as focused on homelessness today as it was a decade ago.

Centered around Bombas reaching its 100 millionth donation, the company’s new OOH campaign highlights the surprising realities of homelessness and the stories of those with lived experiences. Bombas worked with Kingsland on the creative. Because the campaign is mission-driven, it’s intentionally focused on driving compassion to the community that Bombas was founded to serve, rather than promoting brand awareness or increasing conversions.

“OOH is very local and allows us to speak directly to these communities in ways that other channels cannot,” says Tess Guttieres, senior director of brand strategy at Bombas. 

Bombas worked with Quan Media Group on the campaign, which includes more than 300 OOH ads, in real world and digital formats, on billboards, bus shelters, newsstands, and subways throughout New York City. All of the ads include information about why people face homelessness and who is impacted, include QR codes that link to special microsites where people can learn more about the issues.

“Bombas is relatively new to the out-of-home space, but when we came up with the idea to highlight the surprising realities of homelessness through an OOH strategy right here in New York, we knew we needed an agency partner that did things a little differently, and that’s exactly what we found in Quan,” says Guttieres. “Quan’s true collaborative mindset, drive to constantly find us the best opportunities, and incomparable account management and availability made them a true partner in this campaign, not just a vendor. They did not just try to move through inventory, but instead spent countless hours shaping reach strategy and opportunities to ensure that our message would not only be seen but also resonate.”

The Bombas campaign is also running at the national level, through microsites, organic social media, paid social media, and podcast integrations. Bombas is inviting podcast marketing partners to participate in its Hometown Heroes initiative, where selected podcasts hosts can choose an organization to receive 1,000 pairs of socks.

Although the OOH campaign just launched in mid-May, Quan CEO Brian Rappaport says it’s already been an “incredible success.” He’s eager to see data on the amount of activity happening on the company’s microsites, in particular, since that’s where consumers were taken when they scanned the QR codes on the OOH placements. 

“It’ll be curious to see the amount of activity that page has seen at the end of the campaign,” Rappaport says. “But if you go off of press coverage and social response, this has been a truly well received campaign.”

For other brands looking at Bombas’ and considering a similar mission-focused campaign strategy, Rappaport says the takeaway is that OOH campaigns don’t always have to be brand-focused to have a major impact.

“Brands should have causes they support and believe in, and sometimes it’s worth utilizing paid media spend to stand behind those causes,” Rappaport says. “That may resonate with potential consumers and a core audience rather than a typical product-focused brand campaign.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.