Entertainment Style The Volley shoes ad campaign that had the Christian lobby furious

The Volley shoes ad campaign that had the Christian lobby furious

A provocative ad for shoe brand Volley has sparked debate. Photo: Volley
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The team behind a provocative summer ad campaign for the iconic Australian shoe brand Volley has thanked the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) for helping to spread the brand’s risque message.

Served up in September last year, Volley’s ‘Grassroots’ campaign features images of young, nude models photographed on a lush, grass tennis court and includes the tagline “root for VOLLEY”.

But with the Australian Open in full swing, the campaign has been thrown back into the spotlight after it was singled out by the ACL.

“Parents be aware Dunlop Volley still sell sandshoes for school kids, but their website has R rated images as they’re now ‘all about rooting’,” tweeted ACL’s Wendy Francis.

Ms Francis, who describes herself as a “campaigner for the innocence of children”, said the images were “not suitable for children”.

The campaign was later also slammed by the ACL’s Lyle Shelton.

⭐️💥✨ 🎬@sticks_and_stones_agency 📸@marisataschke

A photo posted by Volley Australia (@volleyaustralia) on

‘Celebrating sexual expression’

But Marisa Taschke, the photographer behind the shoot, welcomed the fresh publicity garnered by Ms Francis’ comments.

“Big shout out to [Volley Australia] number one fan [Wendy Francis] and the Australian Christian Lobby!” Ms Taschke wrote on Instagram.

“You’ve helped spread the message behind #grassroots! Your ignorance and hate has helped educate more Australians about safe sex.”

Volley, which is owned by Brand Collective, says the campaign is “all about the celebration of sexual expression whilst remembering to stay safe”.

The brand’s marketing manager, Maria Doubrovski, said the campaign was “targeted to our adult market, not our children’s market”.

“If a consumer is after a pair of Volleys for their children, they need not enter the #Grassroots landing page, which holds the imagery of the campaign,” she told The New Daily.

“We believe that our target audience is more progressive in their thinking and will therefore be more accepting of the concept.”

Ms Doubrovski said Volley had not wanted to confuse sex with voyeurism or objectification.

She said the company was trying to “raise message and brand awareness” instead of “drive sales”.

“We at Volley perceive the imagery to be strikingly beautiful and in no way promiscuous,” said Ms Doubrovski.

“It is displayed there to support the movement of freedom in sexual orientation and self-expression.”

The company has teamed up with condom brand Ansell, and is encouraging people to “root for us, root for change, root for VOLLEY”.

An iconic shoe

Originally the Dunlop Volley, the popular sandshoes date back to 1939.

The shoes were also donned by tennis greats Ken Rosewall, Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court, and gained prominence when worn by Gosford tennis player Mark Edmondson. Edmonson won the 1973 Australian Open while ranked 212th in the world.

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A photo posted by Volley Australia (@volleyaustralia) on

Until the late 1980s, Volleys were also the standard issue shoe worn by members of the Australian Army and RAAF, and formed part of the official Australian team uniform for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Deakin University marketing expert Michael Callaghan said that despite the shoes’ long history, the new campaign was a case of “sex sells”.

The iconic Volley shoes.

Mr Callaghan said it was understandable a “wallflower brand” might take controversial steps to gain publicity.

“They have to do something to get people’s attention,” he told The New Daily.

But he warned that it risked alienating more traditional, conservative consumers, such as parents buying the product for their children.

“They are thought of as the go-to brand for things like school shoes,” he said. 

“They have been there for years as the go-to product for that segment of the market.”

The Volley website’s traffic rose by 275 per cent on Wednesday after Ms Francis’ tweet, Crikey reported.

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