Rack Room Shoes Accelerates Customer Engagement With ‘Real People Project’

After more than a decade of featuring real customers — instead of professional models — in all of its seasonal advertisements, Rack Room Shoes is taking its advertising strategy to the next level.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based family-footwear retailer announced the evolution of its popular initiative, which selected models through its annual Models Wanted contest, with the launch of The Real People Project. The new content-driven campaign aims at celebrating the unique lives of Rack Room Shoes’ customers through storytelling.

Whether it’s one of adventure, heartbreak or simplicity, all of our customers have a special story to tell,” Jan Mauldin, Rack Room Shoes senior director of marketing, said in a release. “Like Models Wanted, The Real People Project places the customer at the heart of our business, but now, with an added dimension. We aren’t just featuring individuals and families — we are building a personal connection by exploring their remarkable everyday life stories in an authentic and personal way.”

Rack Room said it began requesting its customers share images of themselves through the retailer’s online and social media channels in fall 2015. From a pool of thousands of entrants, the company conducted a series of interviews “to uncover the ordinary and extraordinary events in the everyday lives of its customers.”

Four individuals were ultimately selected for the 2016 campaign, and the company will introduce the first Real People Project subject next week.

Rack Room has sent a production crew to each winner’s hometown to capture their stories, which will be shared with the retailer’s online communities through a collection of images and videos. Rack Room Shoes will also award each winner with a customized prize package, tailored to “further each person’s unique passion or dream.”

The campaign is designed to create compelling and experiential content that celebrates the lives of the customer and encourages ongoing engagement with our online audiences,” said Mauldin. “We look forward to knowing and sharing the accomplishments and ambitions of the people who shop in our stores.”

Rack Room is just one of a growing list of brands and retailers that is boosting consumer engagement through social media channels. Brands such as Christian Louboutin , Nike Inc. and Marc Fisher Footwear have launched social media campaigns that seek to engage new and existing customers. Meanwhile, retailers including Foot Locker Inc. and Brandy Melville have also used Instagram to tell stories and drive interest.

This month, Rack Room will open its Shoes That Fit campaign to kick off the back-to-school season. The annual fundraiser invites shoppers to donate new shoes in-store to students in need in their local school systems.

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