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Panam Shows How to Smartly Re-Launch a Dead Brand

| Friday October 7th, 2011 | 2 Comments


In this turbulent global economy, sometimes the best path forward is looking backward – to brands that have been well loved in the past. They clearly had people’s attention at one point, and there’s potentially less legwork needed to resurrect them vs. starting from scratch, attempting to grab mind and heartshare among the harried masses.

But how do you do it? There’s usually a reason that brand went away. Is its past glory irretrievable, and a waste of time and energy to attempt a resurrection? Fast Company recently detailed the efforts of instant coffee brand Brim, whose current owner said, “The longer a brand is dead, the more flexibility you have to relaunch it in a new way.” They intend to fortify it with nutraceuticals, a la Smart Water. In a time where previously unlikely attributes meshed together are increasingly commonplace, this could work.

One company has come up with a way to both draw massive buzz while generating income from recycling its past assets: Panam.

According to Springwise, Panam is a Mexican shoe brand that had a huge following through the 80s, then vanished with the advent of global brands such as Adidas. As with many things, they’ve become a prized find by current day hipsters. In a brilliant move that is a no brainer for the consumer and a potential secondary revenue stream, Panam is offering a free pair of their new shoes to people bringing in an old pair.

Smartly, the giveaway is limited to 250 pairs per event, each location decided by Facebook votes. This, along with building in excitement and investment in the upcoming giveaway, starts to help Panam target where the biggest interest in its shoes is. Then, the few people able to obtain shoes will share their score with their in person friends and family, and brag about it online, amplifying the word of mouth reach each pair of shoes has.

Further, given that vintage Panams are a sought after commodity, the shoes retrieved in better condition could then be sold at a profit greater than the original cost to Panam for the shoes given out.

Will this work? Panam lost favor when global shoe brands moved in, but like young people’s affinity for analog technology like record players, so too could people crave the unadulterated authenticity of a local hero once again. In either case, there is much to be learned from here for those considering bringing brands back from the dead.

Readers: What other relaunches can we learn from? Are you starting the re-launch of a brand? What’s working/worked, and what’s been a challenge?


Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.


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  • Nick Aster

    This one seems a little risky, assuming they’re operating in the US. The long defunct airline, PanAm, is a far more well known brand, which lives on even without technically existing (see the new TV series that just launched). I wonder how smart it is to try to operate something so similar!

    • Paul Smith

      It’s a Mexican brand, not at this time focused on the US market, witha previous fan base, and revived interest, a la Hush Puppies as covered in Tipping Point.