Perspectives from ISB

The T. & A. Bata Shoe Company was founded in the late 1800s in the Czech Republic by Tomas Bata, his brother Antonin and his sister Anna. They came from a long generation of cobblers. The family-owned international business saw its tentacles spread in the 1900s and currently has more than 6000 stores worldwide.

And, despite the rich history it possesses, over the years the brand has been perceived more as a simple, convenient retailer present in the local heartlands, rather than a brand with a strong rich history and a story to tell.

Addressing this issue was Thomas Archer Bata, CMO of the Bata Group. Archer Bata took on the role in December 2015, and is a descendant of the original Bata family.

On stage during the Socialbakers’ Engage Prague 2017 conference, he said: “Being global and international are completely different. Today we are international and have a presence in 76 countries and have retail stores in those countries. But our positioning is inconsistent.”

Taking that into consideration, a year ago the brand closely scrutinised its 220 million global customers buying its products. The team promptly realised its shoppers were tech-savvy and connected to social media; while 75% of these shoppers were also women making decisions for husbands and families. Many were middle class as Bata has maintained its long-standing tradition of creating products that are affordable for all. However, where the brand fell short was having an iconic product that resonated with the brand name.

As such, the brand needed an iconic product and story. Keeping all these issues in mind, Bata created a fictional character to represent its target base. Her name was Angela. Next on Bata’s agenda? To sweep Angela off her feet.

While the product team at Bata got busy creating comfortable and fashionable shoes that would be deemed iconic, the marketing team dived deep into social. Before last year, Archer Bata admits the brand’s social media strategy was immensely underdeveloped.

“Social media is global and you can reach a huge target audience via a few channels. Traditional media has hundreds of media outlets, and as such, calculating ROI becomes more of a challenge,” he said.

But getting everyone on board the social journey was not easy, Archer Bata admits. One big challenge he faced was that, given the company was 123-years old, to tell a traditional marketer who has been doing his job for years that a chunk of his budget would now go to social media was not terribly popular. “Naturally there was resistance, but with data as evidence, people quickly fell into line,” he said. He hopes that by 2018, the brand will invest more on growing its following on Instagram and Facebook.

Source: Manjur, Rezwana, June 13, 2017,

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