A mere four years ago, at the height of the mid-Bush economic frenzy (post-9/11 recession, pre-mortgage meltdown), a certain Niwot-based manufacturer of plastic boat shoes could do no wrong. Crazily colored, beloved by gardeners and ER personnel and children of all ages, Crocs were conquering the world. The company was bursting into new product lines, snapping up other firms, going international and about to launch the most successful stock offering the shoe business had ever seen.
This despite the shoe being a kind of metaphysical absurdity -- light yet ungainly, ugly as original sin, void of fashion sense, and with a certain penchant for getting snagged in escalators. In short, a fad in all its fleeting glory. For more on the shoe's heady times, see my fruitless 2005 quest for the perfect Croc, "A Really Big Shoe."
These days, of course, it's a different story.
Croc stock is in the toilet. The company has endured massive layoffs and seen its sales fall faster than Uncle Leo's arches. The whole phenomenon has gone from being the toast of the business pages to -- well, the other sort of toast. According to an investment analyst quoted by the Washington Post in this scathing article a couple of weeks ago, "They're zombie-ish. They're dead and they don't know it."
Crocs shed CEO Ron Snyder a few months ago in favor of John Duerden, who has vowed to get the company back on track. He even told investors he had a commitment from George Clooney to help improve the company's image. Clooney hasn't shown up in any Crocs marketing campaign yet, but the other day the company got a tweet from another heavyweight celeb. That's right, superstar Drew Carey sent the above pic and the message: "I rock my Crocs. The rest of you can bow down to your corporate-fashion puppetmasters."
Well, you can imagine the excitement down at headquarters. In the past, Crocs have been enthusiastically embraced by a decidedly B-list of celebs, including Graham Nash, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Garner and Ben "Kiss of Death" Affleck. But if Drew Carey's on board, can George Clooney be far behind?