Ecommerce and Entrepreneurship Blog | About | Contact | Store Reminds Me They Sell Shoes, Just When I Hate Shoes

Posted on June 26, 2008 by Tim has been all over the blogging world lately, mostly due to DSW's lawsuit.  Considering a lot of people in the eCommerce community are speculating that this is a linkbait ploy on DSW's part, Zappos may be benefiting from the links as well. is also trying some traditional marketing campaigns that may surprise you.

A few weeks ago I had the "pleasure" of passing through security at Ontario International Airport. On this trip, I took a drastic tack from my classic approach. I packed light. Really light.  I'm talking one bag that satisfies as a carry on for a trip almost a week long. Although this is old school to many, this is a monumental feat for me. In the past, my philosophy was to toss it all in, and be quite certain I packed any options I'd want, than to spend any time at all figuring out what I actually needed. However, now that getting in and out of an airport, plowing through TSA security, and flying in general, has become the second most inefficient process on earth (second only to the continental plates shifting to create new land masses) I've had to evolve.

Quest Through Security

So I checked in, showed ID, showed luggage, got our boarding passes, showed ID again, and headed to the Field-O-Metal-Detectors.

The family goes through the metal detectors first, without any hiccups, then I send the stuff through the machines for them to retrieve on the other side.  Now, it's my turn.

I take my laptop out of it's bag and stick it in the bucket.  I empty my pockets.  Out goes the iPhone, the keys, the wallet, all into the bucket.  Let's see if I can make it through the metal detector...

Beeeeep.  Nope.

The TSA lady points at my face, but she's really trying to point behind me.  "Go back through the metal detector!", she admonishes.

While trying to figure out what I should ditch next, she yells, "Take off your belt!"  Belt ditched; in the bucket.  Back through the metal detector...

Beeeeep.  Nope.

"Back through!", she scolds.

"Take off your watch!"  Watch ditched; in the bucket.  Back through...

Beeeeep.  Nope.

The line behind me is gaining in length, and losing in patience.

"What else do you have?", she chides.  "Nothing", I retort, while slapping my pockets.

No ones happy.  Not me, her, the crowd behind me.  Actually, everyone's getting frustrated.

She has an epiphany and looks down.  I follow her eyes.  Crap, my sandals are still on.  I'm not sure why I didn't ditch them yet.  Maybe I forgot.  Maybe I thought since they were small, light, and open toe, they wouldn't matter.

"TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!!!!", she cries.  Like I'm an idiot.  Like I want to go through the freakin' metal detector four freaking times.  Like I want my family to have to wait for me with all our stuff on the other side.  Like I want the whole damn airport hung up.

Frustratingly, very frustratingly, shoes ditched; in the bucket.  Right now, I pretty much hate the airport, hate TSA, hate metal detectors, and hate, well, shoes...

But, this time, before I go back through, I notice a familiar face in the bottom of the bucket.  It's  Here is what I saw. Advertisement

The Zappos X-Ray Bucket Advertisement

The ad says...


How ironic. reminds me they sell shoes, just when I hate shoes. (As an aside, they also reminded me of those advertisements on grocery store carts in that section of the cart where a baby rides.  Those ads always have pictures of people that look really shady.)

What is Zappos trying to do?

Recently, Zappos dumped their free overnight shipping and their 110% Price Match Guarantee.  Since then, I've noticed a decent amount of Zappos marketing directed at branding and other marketing campaigns that has difficult to measure ROI, such as these x-ray buckets. So with this campaign, is there more than meets the eye?  Are they trying to do more than create brand awareness?

Maybe Zappos is hoping that I'll be thinking about Shoes and Zappos simultaneously so that the next time I think about shoes, I'll think of Zappos?  Now, that would be great, as long as I also don't think about how absolutely freaking ticked I was and attribute that attitude to Zappos.

Maybe they are targeting the customer that is thinking about how they wish they would have worn an easier pair of shoes to slip on and off?  In the moment people might think like that, but in the morning, on the way to the airport, do people decide what shoes they'll wear and take with them on a trip, based on which pair will be most easily removed at security?

Maybe Zappos is thinking that people are getting to the airport earlier and earlier due to airport security, delays, etc., and that they can influence them to pass the time doing some online shopping?  I spent all my time going back and forth through the metal detector so that didn't work for me.
Maybe the idea is to get people to start thinking about shopping at online stores even when they aren’t online.  This is especially important since shoes are traditionally something that people like to try on before they buy.  Hence, Zappos' absent restock fee and free returns shipping.

Good Idea?

So is it a good idea for to remind me that they sell shoes, just when I hate shoes.  Good question.  I don't know the answer.  I know they convinced me to write a blog post about them.  AHA!  THAT'S IT!  It's a viral marketing campaign secretly targeting eCommerce bloggers who Zappos knows will question the value of their campaign.  Genius.  Just Genius.

By the way, once I ditched the shoes, it was smooth sailing through the metal detector.  Dang steel toe sandals... 


blog comments powered by Disqus