Steve Madden Brings Back Iconic Big Head Ads in New Virtual Campaign Starring Normani and More
In the past year, we've seen brands like Juicy Couture, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ed Hardy, Baby Phat and Von Dutch cash in on the early 2000s revival. And rightfully so — Gen Z can't seem to get enough of young Hollywood club culture and the gloriously tacky fashion that came with it. The latest early 2000s It-brand to embrace younger consumers? Steve Madden.
On Monday, the footwear label announced the launch of The Steve Maddenverse, starring actress Sydney Sweeney, singers Normani, Justine Skye and Nessa Barrett and Gossip Girl star Jordan Alexander. The imaginative experience is not just a digital campaign — it's a "tech-savvy, future-forward movement" that promises virtual content, V-commerce, interactive AR capabilities and the return of the brand's iconic Big Head Girls.
Steven Madden debuted his digitally wrapped bobblehead ads in the late '90s. The quirky Avatars were a mainstream success and went on to help define fashion in the early 2000s. Now, the five Steve Maddenverse stars are bringing them back for this Elite World Group-produced project.
"I'm so excited to be part of this campaign. Steve Madden has been such a huge presence and force in fashion through my childhood, so it was an easy yes when asked to be part of this. Their campaigns from the 90's were so iconic," Normani, 25, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "The whole process has been fascinating, from the scans to creating my very own virtual avatar, existing in a universe created by me, is wild. The innovation behind this campaign is beyond. I'm so excited to share it with the world."
Sweeney, who recently starred in HBO's The White Lotus, adds: "I'm so excited to be a part of the meta verse in Steve Madden's newest campaign. My mom and I grew up loving their shoes, so much so that my mom continues to get her favorite pair of boots resoled over and over throughout the years! I love the newest collection of shoes, especially the pink heels that my avatar wears so well."
As part of the launch, Skye, Barrett and Alexander also created big head characters that showcase their favorite Steve Madden styles. The rest of Steve Maddenverse will roll out on social media when all five women share exclusive photos, 8-10 second animated videos with messages and a custom Instagram filter that allows their followers to morph into a Big Head Girls-inspired avatar. (We can't wait to try it!).
Madden, who founded the brand in 1990 and now acts as chief of creative & design, said the original ads "changed the way people looked at footwear" and "re-wrote the rules of the industry and spoke to a generation."
"We're doing it again using technology, interactive experiences, and a group of talented women to set a new agenda," he added.
As for the young talent cast in this nostalgic campaign, Steve Madden CEO Ed Rosenfeld said all five women are "redefining how we express ourselves through media."
They are speaking their minds, starting conversations, and inspiring a whole new generation to shape the world they want to live in," Rosenfeld concluded.
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