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How OluKai Delivers Aloha in a Crisis

Exponea client OluKai responded quickly and executed an email campaign that would spread Aloha in difficult times

OluKai (from two Hawaiian words, “Olu” meaning comfort and “Kai” meaning ocean) is a footwear company that produces elegant leather shoes, sandals, boots, and slippers. Founded in 2005, OluKai is well-known for their high-quality products and their ethical approach to business.

When OluKai wanted to increase the agility of their marketing efforts, they chose Exponea as their partner. They’ve been using Exponea since August of 2019 to create and launch high-quality marketing campaigns that share their values with their customers.

Their marketing and creative teams typically planned their email marketing campaigns a few months in advance and built them in the weeks leading up to their deployment.  As they are a fashion brand, their content included custom photo shoots, high-class elements of design and well storied visual campaigns. But within the last two weeks, all that planning was turned upside down.

In March of 2020, it was clear that COVID-19 had grown into a global pandemic. The lives of many OluKai customers looked completely different and day-to-day normalities were transformed overnight. OluKai knew it wasn’t time for business as usual. They needed to respond, and fast.

The Campaign

OluKai wanted to send a campaign that was in line with its brand values. They knew all their customers were receiving COVID-19 emails from everyone they’d ever given their email address. Most of those emails were going unread, and added zero value to the people who received them.

OluKai took a different approach. They went with something fun, topical, and on brand. You can check out their email below:

OluKai doubled-down on the new reality of working from home and inspired some laughter and light-heartedness in an uncomfortable situation. Then they encouraged their customers to participate by creating user-generated content with the hashtag #AnywhereAloha.

Instead of a somber email, they tried to spread a little Aloha. And they did it in record time. While OluKai still responded to the COVID-19 crisis, their communication focused on the positive.

The Execution

Though OluKai typically plans their campaigns months in advance, a rapidly changing situation called for a different approach.

The OluKai team initiated a brainstorming session and came up with the idea for this campaign on Thursday, March 12th. 

The campaign went live on Friday, March 13th.

Impressive, right? 

OluKai’s creative and marketing teams had a couple people step out of their traditional day-to-day and scrambled to pull this together the next morning. The shoot took place at one of their homes. Chris, Digital Graphic Designer, acted as the model for the shoot, and Tim, Retail Marketing Manager, stepped in as the photographer.