How OluKai Delivers Aloha in a Crisis
By Jordan Torpy
Mar 23, 2020
9 min read
How OluKai Delivers Aloha in a Crisis
Table of Contents
Bloomreach client OluKai responded quickly and executed an email campaign that would spread Aloha in difficult times when the COVID-19 pandemic first began in March 2020.
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 its high-quality products and its ethical approach to business.
When OluKai wanted to increase the agility of its marketing efforts, it chose Bloomreach as a partner. OluKai has been using Bloomreach since August of 2019 to create and launch high-quality marketing campaigns that share its values with its customers.
Olukai's 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 OluKai is a fashion brand, its content included custom photo shoots, high class elements of design and well-storied visual campaigns. But when it became apparent that COVID-19 would become a global issue, 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. It needed to respond, and fast.
OluKai wanted to send a campaign that was in line with its brand values. All of its 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. It 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 it encouraged customers to participate by creating user-generated content with the hashtag #AnywhereAloha.
Instead of a somber email, OluKai tried to spread a little "Aloha". And it did it in record time. While OluKai still responded to the COVID-19 crisis, the communication focused on the positive.
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.
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.
Then they went back to the office, and OluKai's creative team developed the campaign using Bloomreach’s email builder. The email went out that day.
Bloomreach fits seamlessly into our current business processes. Both our Design and Marketing teams are “fluent” in how to use the platform, so getting an email out is just a matter of plug and play for us - we don’t have to do a lot of the heavy lifting that might come with other platforms. We have this highly-intuitive platform through Bloomreach that allows us to take advantage of some really advanced functionalities without any confusion among our teams. This allows us to turnaround innovative and thoughtful campaigns in a short amount of time.
Kyrsti Ashmall | Digital Marketing Manager
Prior to Bloomreach, OluKai’s creative team would put together designs for emails and pass them off to another team to hardcode them. This slowed things down, and sometimes the creative team would have ideas that weren’t possible to build, leading to back-and-forths with the campaign team.
With Bloomreach, the creative team designs and builds the emails themselves, directly in Bloomreach. There’s no need to pass designs off to external contractors, and the designers now have a better understanding of best practices for email design and what is and isn’t doable.
Bloomreach enables the entire OluKai team to act quickly and react to what’s going on in the world. And OluKai customers get a little piece of aloha in their inbox.
So how did the campaign perform?
OluKai doesn’t typically send out email campaigns on a Friday. Generally speaking, it’s not a great day for e-commerce email campaigns.
This campaign was also fighting against all the other COVID-19 emails from other companies hoping to be read by customers.
In spite of both of those factors, the campaign performed beautifully. OluKai generally has good email performance. But this campaign managed to surpass their average performance.
Impressive results, especially for a campaign that came together in one day! Beyond the good results, several people reached out personally to the OluKai team members to compliment them on a campaign well done.
OluKai is committed to doing what it takes to overcome COVID-19. As health and safety are paramount in every aspect of our business, we're currently working from home (in sandals) and offering unlimited paid sick leave. Instead of leading with that, our goal with this campaign and everything else we do is to keep sharing our aloha with you, no matter where you are. Bloomreach allows us to communicate more personally, directly with our consumers in record time. This campaign would have been much more challenging to execute before integrating Bloomreach into our team.
Steven Johnson | Director of eCommerce
Most importantly for Olukai, the campaign let them spread a little bit of positivity and humor in the face of this ongoing crisis.