Latin Lessons

Sandal brand Rider revamps by basking in its Brazilian heritage.

With Hollywood flocking to Brazil to shoot some of the industry’s hottest blockbusters (The Incredible Hulk, Fast Five and the next Twilight film, just to name a few) and the World Cup and summer Olympics slated to take place in Rio de Janeiro in the coming years, one thing is certain: Brazil is booming.

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Sandal brand Rider revamps by basking in its Brazilian heritage.

With Hollywood flocking to Brazil to shoot some of the industry’s hottest blockbusters (The Incredible Hulk, Fast Five and the next Twilight film, just to name a few) and the World Cup and summer Olympics slated to take place in Rio de Janeiro in the coming years, one thing is certain: Brazil is booming.

Taking advantage of the trend, sandal brand Rider knew it was the perfect time to publicize a surprisingly well-kept secret: Rider is designed, manufactured and based in Brazil. “I think that will help our brand resonate in the mind of consumers,” says Brad Gruber, national sales manager at Rider. “Most Americans have a positive image of Brazil. It’s exotic, it’s relaxed, it’s enjoyable, it’s the beach—and that’s what our sandals also bring to mind and we want people to think of.”

The brand’s revamped campaign—featuring vibrant eye-catching ads with the slogan, “The Soul of Brazil”— includes a new Street Summer collection for Spring ’12, with six bright styles for men, three for women and one for children (retail prices range from $20 to $32). Aiming to capture the country’s authenticity, a few of the styles sport soles with a map of Rio’s trendy Lapa neighborhood. “We’re really highlighting the new division to be the brand driver,” Gruber says. Rider is also emphasizing its eco-friendly bonafides—an ethos that company emphasized long before it was trendy, Gruber notes. Every pair of the brand’s sandals are made of 30 percent recycled material and is 100 percent recyclable, while 90 percent of the industrial waste created by Rider factories is recycled or reused.

It’s all part of an effort to create a unique brand identity, a la Nike, in a footwear market overcrowded with sandal and flip-flop options, Gruber explains. “When people say ‘Just do it,’ you know it’s Nike,” he points out. “It gets very frustrating that we haven’t gained that level of brand recognition in the 15 years we’ve been in the U.S.” Gruber predicts the new campaign will boost the brand’s image and allow Rider to continue on its upward trajectory, noting that 2010 was the second-best year in its history. “It will galvanize our brand and give us traction not just here in the U.S., but around the world,” he says. —Audrey Goodson

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