Stan Smith at the 1972 Wimbeldon Men's Singles Final. Source: Pinterest
I was recently walking in Merrick Park in Coral Gables, one of South Florida’s more high-end shopping destinations, and happened to notice a number of people wearing Adidas Stan Smith sneakers.
I figured that most of those people, probably most people in general, have no clue who Stan Smith is (he’s a hall of fame tennis player); they’re just simply wearing cool-looking, retro leather sneakers.
Yet for anyone who played tennis as a kid in the 1970s and 1980s, the Adidas Stan Smith was ubiquitous. It was at one point probably the best leather tennis shoe in the mass market. I recently read that Mr. Smith inked his deal with Adidas way back in 1971.
While many of us long-fully speak about the baseball cards that mom threw away and bemoan that Barry Bonds rookie card that’s now worth a zillion dollars, one would not have thought this applied to tennis shoes.
When my mother passed some time back, I cleaned out a closet and found about six pairs of the old Stan Smiths. I chuckled when I saw them and threw them all out. What a fool I was! I now realize that I probably ditched about $1,800, because while Zappos will sell you a new pair for $75.00, vintage Stan Smiths on eBay sell for about $300!
I also wondered how “cool” those people would think their sneakers were if they saw the photo of Stan Smith below in his 1970s tennis shorts!
Being in public relations, particularly in a digital age, we are always looking for innovative ways to generate awareness for our clients’ service or product.
There was something interesting about seeing mainly 20-somethings walking by with those sneakers. I finally couldn’t help myself and actually asked one of them about the shoe. As suspected, they had no idea who Stan Smith was. When I asked why she bought them, her response was, “They look really cool.”
That’s when it washed over me; I’d said the same thing several decades ago with my first pair of Stan Smiths. It was an interesting lesson in messaging.
I only wish I would have kept those old pairs, though!