Last Friday the President & CEO of Allen Edmonds, Paul Grangaard started a Q&A thread on Reddit, one of the more interesting things I’ve seen a brand do in a while that didn’t follow the typical pattern we see brands following on the Internet today.
It was smart for a couple of reasons. The first is that he connected with a network of people who are already passionate about menswear. There are a plenty of groups like this online, but a subreddit made sense in this instance because you can communicate immediately with a subset of people with a focused interest; no audience or status required.
The second is that he knew enough about the language and customs of Reddit to not make an ass of himself. This is not an easy thing to do well on Reddit, but he nailed it. Too often brands walk up to a new platform and parade around like wild animals without giving much thought to the local customs.
Third, he didn’t shy away from questions like “How much does it cost to make a pare of Strands?” His reply was far more direct and honest than I thought it would have been, too.
Forth, he was smart to verify his identify by uploading the picture you see at the top of this blog post. He even used imgur the image uploading service most users use on Reddit. Quite often brands will hide under the vail on anonymity. that can make a lot of sense sometimes, but when you’re proclaiming to be the CEO of Allen Edmonds on Reddit, yeah, you should verify that shit.
The thing that impressed me most, though, is his unwavering passion for what he does. It is probably the most genuine communication from a brand that I’ve ever seen and is what made reading his answers so much fun. Passionate people are captivating; it’s why I read every single one of his replies as the office emptied out Friday evening. Oddly, you don’t see this a lot from brands. Instead we see simple exchanges of pleasantries, a lack of opinion, and broadcasts of PR announcements.
So then, what’s the pay off? Reddit has a habit of crashing websites when they get excited about something because of all the traffic they send its way and that’s exactly what happened here. I can’t imagine that they didn’t seen an upswing in online sales that day and into the weekend because of it. They certainly have a bunch of new fans and the attention of /r/malefashionadvice, which doesn’t hurt.
I can’t imagine that pay off or strategic reasoning was too carefully considered before the thread was started. And honestly I think that’s fine. Little experiments like this are what Undercurrent calls survivable risks and we often encourage our clients to take them. Adaptation like this is a posture smart brands are starting to take because it in part it can lead them towards having an edge over the other guy.
I was barely a fan of Allen Edmonds prior to this thread and now I can’t wait to get my first pair. This man deserves Reddit Gold.