Helping Brazil’s Beloved Flip Flop Brand Grow its Global Footprint

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Havaianas is a brand for everyone, owing its early success to the working class. But over the decades, Brazil’s biggest fashion export really has delivered on its promise that there’s a pair of flip flops for everyone, upscaling the affordable yet durable traditional pair into a wide range of footwear with broad appeal.

While the brand has achieved icon status in Brazil, Havaianas is a brand with a significant global reach. Circus Marketing, who joined our monastery earlier this year, has greatly supported and enhanced Havaianas’ efforts to accelerate success around the world, helping audiences everywhere come to know the brand like the Brazilians do: a truly democratic brand that stands for the people.

Circus and Havaianas march in perfect sync thanks to their close connection in Havaianas’ internal creative team, Hana. Hana is built for digital, and was established after Havaianas realized the opportunity to increase their digital investment to make creative more effective. While Hana is an internal team, its efforts are accelerated and supercharged by Circus–at home and around the world. Here’s how.

Legitimizing the Brand Story through Collaboration and Activation

A lot of what makes Havaianas such an iconic brand is through its marketing—not just in the messages it puts out, but even in how it produces work internally to live up to the brand image.

Speaking at a Brand Innovators event presented by MediaMonks and Circus centered on multicultural marketing, Havaianas CMO Fernanda Romano said, “By design we’ve made it a rule internally that we need to bring representation to the table. Our partners know…don’t even bother to bring a bid to the table if you haven’t bid with all sorts of people.”

Havaianas-Group

Guests gathered virtually in a series of online marriage ceremonies hosted by Havaianas.

The brand is further transforming itself to support marginalized communities: most recently, Havaianas launched its “All Love is Welcome” platform to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride. This is more than just a campaign: it’s a year-round commitment that demonstrates the brand’s role in supporting the LGBTQ+ community in an impactful way.

In addition to launching a Pride-themed line that will sell year-round, Havaianas is allocating part of product net income to All Out, an organization that operates locally and globally to advocate for the community. Havaianas will also cease categorizing by gender and will increase the size range for designs to make them more inclusive. “We made a point that representation wasn’t a checkmark to tick off,” Romano told the Brand Innovators audience.

To help launch its “All Love is Welcome” platform, Havaianas worked with Circus to host a virtual celebration of love. Three couples—and their guests—virtually came together to marry, renew vows and celebrate the spirit of Pride at home. In addition to real marriage officiating, couples were treated to serenades from Flutua and Johnny Hooker, who belted out an anthem to inspire and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to the hero video that captures moments from the virtualized event, Havaianas is rolling out documentary-style shorts that dive deeper into the lives and stories of the featured couples for a global audience.

Monk Thoughts By design we've made it a rule internally that we need to bring representation to the table.

Depicting real stories was key to the campaign’s success and spoke to the challenges that LGBTQ+ people face in lockdown. “One of the creatives who worked on the campaign said that one of her friends had just come out to his mother because they were living so closely together now,” says Luciana Haguiara, Executive Creative Director at Circus. “Some people are arguing but many are becoming much closer with their loved ones, are starting to accept things and being more careful with one another’s feelings.” She notes that Sao Paulo has one of the biggest Pride parades in the world, a claim that the Guinness Book of World Records has confirmed from 2006 to at least 2016, making it incredibly important to still offer that celebratory space virtually.

Making the Pivot to Virtual

The Pride campaign is just one example of how Havaianas has rapidly virtualized to offer the brand’s trademark fun, summery spirit. Its Mother’s Day campaign, which depicts mothers in recognizable situations at home (keeping their kids entertained, being separated from family and more), was built out of insights gained from the brand asking how mothers feel during COVID-19.

Perhaps more excitingly, the Hana team also quickly pivoted its content strategy to host virtual events that provided its audience fun and comfort while at home. Havaianas very much represents the outdoor lifestyle, so the challenge became: how do we activate the brand while the majority of its customers are indoors and at home?

Circus’ idea was to help Brazilians continue to enjoy life through a series of livestreamed, at-home concerts featuring Marília Mendonça, Thiaguinho and Big Brother Brazil star Manu Gavassi. In Mendonça’s performance alone received over 11 thousand likes, three thousand posts from viewers showing off their Havaianas, and three million simultaneous viewers—a YouTube record that hasn’t been beat.

And as Havaianas continues to expand around the globe, the brand is focusing on virtualizing commerce as well. Its “Let’s Summer!” campaign and new Tmall store in China exhibits how the Havaianas really is for everyone, no matter where they are in the world. The store serves as a best-in-class example of how a brand can modernize and optimize its digital storefront by following the full customer journey.

Thiaguinho

Havaianas activated the brand in the home through a series of livestreamed concerts.

Havaianas was integral to normalizing flip flop use out of the home in its early days in Brazil, and has met a similar challenge in its expansion to APAC and China, where wearing flip flops in public isn’t common. Moving past this is the first test before engaging more deeply with the local culture. “The challenge was to establish a flip-flop culture in China, first and foremost by making people fall in love with the Havaianas brand and what it stood for: the colorful, fun and lively Brazilian summer spirit which is core to their brand DNA,” said Brandon Tucs, Creative Director at MediaMonks.

Achieving this was a truly global effort, connecting talent from Shanghai, Los Angeles and Brazil. “Since this was the first MediaMonks job with the Havaianas, we helped them understand the positioning, the challenges going global and translating their spirit to such a different market like China,” said Caio Del Manto, Managing Director at Circus. “In the end, this is the part of the brand’s main goal: to become a global lifestyle brand that carries this easy-going spirit so famous among Brazilians.”

We established master pages for the Home and product pages, making it easy for the brand to plug in content based on brand guidelines our team had established, ensuring the digital store looks inviting in any scenario.

Monk Thoughts The challenge was to establish a flip-flop culture in China, first and foremost by making people fall in love with the Havaianas brand and what it stood for.

A writeup in Marketing Interactive noted how useful digital investment was for the brand to emerge successfully through the COVID-19 outbreak. “During COVID-19 when stores were closed in most of the APAC countries, Havaianas invested disproportionally behind digital media to maximize its brand visibility. It also set up stronger social commerce platforms and built a relevant influencer strategy with local brand ambassadors, such as Luna Maya in Indonesia or Nelydia Nik Sen in Malaysia.”

In celebration of the launch of the brand’s new shape–the Japanese-inspired Tradi Zori, signalling Havaianas’ goal to take the streets with an urban audience–the Brazil team at Circus set up a global campaign of unboxing videos from influencers in the streetwear space. These included Leo Mandella (@GullyGuyLeo), Kofi McCalla (@Icykof), Enrico Cardoso (@EnricoCardoso) and Suyane Ynaya (@Suyane_Ynaya), whose content portrays the diverse ways that the Tradi Zori enhances personal style.

From virtualized commerce and events to driving real-world, societal impact, Havaianas has used digital to move the needle in several ways around the world. By establishing partners upstream in the planning process (like Circus’ involvement with the Hana team), the brand is able to quickly pivot campaigns without losing focus of long-term goals and tasks. Through this approach, it’s no surprise that Havaianas has achieved so much success in its march to digital.

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