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Showing the world who you are

Dr. Martens is reminding us to be ourselves.



When Dr. Martens asked our creative agency ACNE to collaborate on a campaign to share its story, we went straight to the people who tell it best: Dr. Martens’ creative community.

People who’ve got married and divorced in them, transitioned in them, and flown planes in them.

The result is an uplifting series of films starring fierce role models celebrating their individuality and reminding everyone to be themselves.

How do you show the world who you are? With the clothes you wear? The people you follow on social media? Your social comments and likes?

The choices we share with the world tell a story about what matters to us. And for legions of loyal Dr. Martens (DM) wearers, DM’s are part of their identity. Born in 1960, in Wollaston in England, Dr. Martens boots began life as work wear. Throughout the decades, they’ve been adopted by British youth subcultures famed for challenging the status quo.

Today, ’Rebellious Self Expression’ continues to be part of DM’s DNA, appealing to a creative community of wearers who want to stand up for what they believe in. It’s an ethos that has contributed to making the boots iconic all over the world. Sold in over 60 countries, almost 14 million new pairs were bought in 2022.

“Questioning who we should be and why, is all part of moving things forward and changing society for the better,” says James Ranson, creative director at Deloitte’s creative agency ACNE, part of the team who supported Dr. Martens on its campaign.

“We love the DM’s attitude. It’s about inclusion and freedom. And we’re a team of DM’s fans too, so being trusted to help bring their story to life was a privilege.”

The aim of the campaign was to support the brand’s ongoing growth and re-affirm its story with new audiences and generations on social media.

“Those who wear and love DM’s have an emotional connection with them,” James continues. “To tell its story, we spoke to those who know it best: a community of wearers, who feature in ‘Broken in Once: Worn for a Lifetime’, a campaign for its Icons range.

“And to the talented people who make them, at Dr. Martens’ first ever factory, based in Northamptonshire for a film called ‘Made in England’.”

Everyone is included

From the start, it was clear that Dr. Martens’ values – act courageously, be yourself and show you care – would take centre stage.

Positive representation is something younger audiences rightly expect and are now attuned to. Compared with those aged 46+, twice as many 18-25 year olds notice representation when they’re considering a purchase. And millennials and Gen Zs continue to have high expectations for businesses when it comes to issues like climate action and inclusion, that affect wider society.

In recent years, we’ve seen big strides made in equal representation in advertising and content. But until everyone feels included, there’s no room for complacency.

ACNE’s managing director, Annie Gallimore, is all too aware of this. Recognised in Campaign magazine’s 40 under 40 for her impact within the industry, she recently completed her tenure as chair of the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising’s talent and leadership group, championing under-represented groups in the industry and beyond.

“ACNE stands for an Ambition to Create New Expressions,” says Annie. “Culture is a huge part of that and working with brands like Dr. Martens is an opportunity to reinforce the culture in society we keep working to create.

“The images we see around us matter. Content and advertising have a huge role to play in leading the change we want to see in society. We have a responsibility not only to reflect the world we live in, but also to celebrate the role models all around us.

“In this campaign, we found some amazing role models to celebrate. Like Sarah, part of the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre, who remembers marching her first Pride on her own, in her DM’s.”



Loud, messy and like a family


‘Made in England’, takes us behind the scenes in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, to the original Dr. Martens factory, where hundreds of thousands of boots are still made each year using original methods,” says Kate Murphy, executive creative director at ACNE.“The film depicts talented people who make these boots and shoes every day, showing their crafting process in its rawest and loudest form.“They tell us how the factory is loud, messy and like a family that inspires them to be individuals. And a sense of belonging to the community behind one of the UK’s most iconic brands is a big part of their story.“We wanted to celebrate British culture while showing the love that goes into making the boots and the pride the makers take in their craft.”

How do you tell the story of a British icon?


To help new audiences understand the connection people have with their DM’s, we tracked down wearers of the DM's Icons range, searching online, on social media and forums, and with casting directors and researchers on the streets.Then we asked the wearers one simple question: “What have you done in your DM’s?”
“It was all we needed to uncover surprising, inspiring stories from fascinating people about poignant moments and weird, wonderful journeys of self-discovery,” ACNE’s creative director James Ranson continues.We heard from people who’ve got married and divorced in them, transitioned in them, and flown planes in them. One theme that came through constantly was how DM’s had been a crucial companion empowering people at these life-defining moments.“We’re really proud of the end result. The films are a patchwork quilt of different faces, places, cultures and personalities, authentically told, that capture the wearers’ spirit of independence and diversity.“With a spotlight on Sarah, Elijah and Jai, we celebrate what they and others have experienced over the years, all with their Dr. Martens on their feet.”

Sarah, who remembers marching in her DMs at her first Pride.

“Wearing Dr. Martens has always made me feel visible. Made me feel seen; and seen by the people who really matter.”

Elijah, DJ and artist turned creative mentor and pioneer.

“I’m being more me than I’ve ever been in my whole life. It doesn’t even serve me to try and fit in.”

Jai, Performer fusing her Asian traditions and heritage to create a unique style of dance and self-expression.

“I like combining the two parts of me that feel most important: my queerness and my heritage.”

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