Cole Haan’s Homage to Pre-Digital Icons

Millennials may be advertisers’ most coveted demographic – digital, savvy, always on – but Cole Haan’s latest campaign is paying homage to a very different cohort.

With “Born in 1928,” Cole Haan salutes the amazing people born before the digital age, and plays off of nostalgia for a bygone era.

Poet Maya Angelou, model and fashion editor China Machado, Apollo 13 commander Capt. Jim Lovell, and photographer Elliott Erwitt were all born the year Cole Haan opened for business. (Well, Machado was actually born in 1929, but she gets a pass.) And all appear in elegant, high-contrast photos and videos for the brand’s Born in 1928 campaign. In each video, one of the notable models shares an anecdote form his or her life, while sporting item’s from the brand’s Fall line, naturally.

“We really believe this campaign, like our brand, has transcendent appeal. Our icons are cross-generationally inspiring because of their substance and equal relevance then and now,” said Erin Riley, vp of brand communication for Cole Haan.

The shoes and accessories manufacturer has been using Facebook to drive customers to their sweepstakes to win one of 13 pairs of “silver LunarGrands,” a shoe inspired by the Captain Jim Lovell – and start wistful conversations around the brand and its octogenarian models. “Wow, so many memories, thanks!” reads a typical Facebook fan comment.

Cole Haan also has a dedicated Pinterest board to feature well-known fine artists who were born in 1928. Works from Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Osamu Tezuka all serve the campaign theme.

The goal, said Riley, is that the brand comes across as authentic, true to its own 1928 beginnings. “This campaign used the simple theme of ‘Born in 1928′ to highlight people who embody our values and who have been at it as long as we have.” Which, maybe, even the most fickle millennial can get behind.