Safety professionals are the unsung heroes of countless jobs, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that injuries and incidents are kept to a minimum.
Today, on Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day in the US, Red Wing Shoe Company - which has been decking out workers with safety gear for 118 years - is kicking off a new programme to honour these everyday heroes. Entitled 'Thanks for Nothing', the campaign puts a cheeky, positive spin on the otherwise negative phrase by highlighting the importance of 'nothing' - workers know that when they’re kept safe, it means no missed shifts, no lost wages, and no impact on their families.
As part of the initiative, which was created by Schermer, Red Wing is inviting all workers to share the stories of safety professionals who have made a difference in their safety – whether it’s a safety professional they work with on the job currently or one who made an impact on them in the past. Workers can submit their stories by posting their videos on social media using the hashtag #RedWingSafetyHeroes.
To find out more about the campaign and the importance of the brand's 'Work' category versus the more lifestyle-oriented Heritage line, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Dave Schneider, chief marketing officer at Red Wing Shoes.
LBB> Why did Red Wing decide to produce a campaign honouring safety professionals?
Dave> It’s important context here to understand that foundational to any job to be completed by the skilled trades involves a variety of team members – from those that spec and complete the work to those that are accountable for job site safety. Safety professionals are rarely recognised for all that they contribute to an organisation, the employees, and the community at large. As a company that provides safety footwear and related PPE, Red Wing wanted to put a spotlight on the crucial work these everyday heroes play in making sure trades workers are safe on the job, so they go home to their families at the end of each day.
LBB> I can imagine that an on-site safety professional is somewhat of an 'invisible' job that hides under the radar. If at all true, how did this factor into your decision to produce this campaign?
Dave> Safety professionals enable the work of tradespeople that build the world around us, yet their impact is often overlooked. Without safety professionals protecting workers, you would hear about a lot more workplace accidents, but due to their diligent work, incidents have declined 75% over the last four decades. Safety professionals make a difference in the lives of the workers they protect every day and this ‘Thanks for Nothing’ campaign is designed to elevate their visibility in the safety industry and honour their commitment to making sure nothing unexpected happens on the job.
LBB> From a marketing and business standpoint, what were the main aims and ambitions of this campaign?
Dave> This is a holistic campaign that is being deployed across our marketing channels, from in-store visuals to social media. Our primary goal is to thank safety professionals for the tireless work they do every day in pursuit of zero incidents. We also aim to inspire and encourage workers to submit personal videos thanking the safety professionals in their lives, whether it’s someone they work with today or someone who has made an impact on their safety in the past. By showcasing these videos, we’ll help to elevate the mission of safety professionals and demonstrate the depth of gratitude that the trades industries have for them.
LBB> How does this campaign feed into your wider marketing activities and ambitions at Red Wing?
Dave> From its inception as a company, Red Wing has been committed to facilitating safety: first through safety footwear and now through both personal protective equipment (PPE) and programmes like Red Wing for Business that help us provide seamless safety technology for companies to utilise as a part of their safety programs. This campaign demonstrates our company’s commitment to safety and the true partnership we aim to build with every safety professional we work with.
LBB> Outside of above-the-line campaigns like this, what are some other key points of focus for you for Red Wing marketing?
Dave> One of the most awesome aspects of the Red Wing brand is that it is so iconic with a global footprint. From the streets of Tokyo to a worksite in Minnesota, you can find people wearing Red Wing shoes. As the leading brand in the safety footwear space, one of the key strategies is that we continue to be a champion of the skilled trades. From our Builders Exchange Program
, which was our first entry into the metaverse where we paired real-life builders with virtual builders, to our continued support of Labor Day, we seek to provide proof of our commitment to the skilled trades.
LBB> As you’ve mentioned regarding the streets of Tokyo, Red Wing is one of a number of classic workwear brands that have become popular in certain circles of fashion and lifestyle. How do you have to contemplate this from a marketing perspective?
Dave> Balancing the various consumer and product segments that have interest and appeal to our flagship brand can be both challenging and opportunistic at the same time. What keeps us balanced, however, is the recognition that our Work category business is foundational to our brand and its success over 118-plus years. We seek to balance that with the appropriate activations that shine a spotlight on our more lifestyle-oriented heritage category but do so in a way that does not challenge the authenticity of the brand. Heritage provides cache to work, but work is and remains our core business.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Dave> Our ‘Thanks for Nothing’ initiative recognises the fact that the tireless efforts of safety professionals make it possible for trades workers in many crucial industries, like construction, mining, oil and gas and more, to do the work that keeps our nation moving forward. By thanking these professionals for ‘nothing’, we’re recognising that their commitment to facilitating zero-incident job sites is what allows for this work to continue.