Sperry Top-Sider SON-R

Brand Uprising Case Study:

Sperry Top-Sider SON-R

Sperry Top-Sider, headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, invented the boat shoe in 1935 and has since grown to be an international lifestyle and performance footwear brand appealing to men and women of all ages.

Big Picture

Having a strong following in the sailing and boating footwear categories, Sperry next developed a proprietary, needs-based technology specifically designed for the multi-water sport enthusiast. Sperry's new technology gave paddlers enhanced underfoot proprioception (the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space) to improve balance and increase traction.

Sperry Top-Sider SON-R

Core Challenge

Sperry Top-Sider sought to increase distribution to target retailers and gain awareness among consumers who were not familiar with the Sperry brand. They needed to introduce technology for an entirely different need set previously unassociated with Sperry, all in a relevant and memorable way.


As a product innovator, Sperry needed to leverage its heritage and connection to life "in, on and around the sea" in order to give the brand credibility and capture market leadership in this new water sport category.


Crunch leveraged the Advanced Water Technologies Platform to communicate an innovation story that further solidified Sperry's stature as a performance brand that builds needs-based solutions for water sport athletes, including paddlers.

  • Coined SON-R as the technology name to play off the proprioceptive qualities of the shoe's footbed and outsole
  • Created impactful pre-launch presence for SON-R at Outdoor Retailer trade show creating buzz with this new distribution group
  • Developed print and digital ad campaign based on Inspiration, Technology and Experience construct to establish relationship with the target audience
  • Created arresting retail-level POS to raise awareness and promote trial
  • Developed an experiential microsite with video enhancements to further bring the category to life


  • Pre-sold SON-R product into 100 REI stores, an entirely new distribution channel for Sperry, after product exposure at Outdoor Retailer
  • In a Vista Survey, Sperry's SON-R ad in the June 2011 issue of Outside magazine ranked:
    • #1 for inspiring readers to gather more information about the product
    • #3 of all 57 ads for recall