As legend has it, Paul Sperry—Dartmouth man, World War I naval officer—was sailing his cutter Sirocco on a cold day in 1935 when he nearly slipped on the wet deck and killed himself. Apart from his near-death experience, Sperry also noticed how his shipmate (a cocker spaniel named Prince) navigated the slippery teak without trouble. Later, examining his furry friend’s paws, Captain Sperry noticed the fine ridges in the pads of Prince’s feet and had an idea. Taking a flat-soled shoe and a pen knife, Sperry cut deep grooves in the rubber, which not only furnished him with fine traction on the deck but also, after a few subsequent style adjustments, produced a shoe destined for legend: the Top-Sider. “Sperry is the original boat shoemaker,” noted Mark Sullivan, the editor of industry pub Footwear Insight. “They have authenticity, a legitimate heritage, and they’ve always fallen back on that.” And, broadly speaking, it’s always worked—especially following the 1980 publication of Lisa Birnbach’s The Official Preppy Handbook, which anointed the Top-Sider as the official shoe of the bare-ankled, navy-blazer set. good. As early as 1977, when this vertical ad appeared, Sperry was already dealing with imitators (“we’ve seen a lot of copies”) and urging us to buy the “real thing.” And while the preppy trend lagged a bit during the 1990s, today the style’s as popular as ever—which means, as Sullivan said, “it’s become a crowded market.” Sebago, Ralph Lauren, Timberland, Rockport, Coach, Naturalizer—all just a few of the brands that today make some variation of the “boat shoe.” But for Sperry (which still has a comfortable grip on majority market share), there’s been a more subtle price to pay, and it’s visible in this 2014 ad. As copycats have flooded the market with hipster variations on the boat shoe (some of which, like John Varvatos’ linen version, defeat the purpose of even using them on the water), the Top-Sider is today more lifestyle accessory than yachtsman’s gear.. It was a performance, salt-water shoe,” complete with waterproof leather and a white sole that wouldn’t leave marks on the deck. “But now,” he said, “they’re about romance and lifestyle”—laceless boat shoes and plastic boat shoes and even open-toed boat shoes. “Now you’ve got kids in the boat, and the boat’s not even in the water.” As the Baltimore Sun’s late fashion editor Vida Roberts observed a few years back, “the old crowd ... scoff[s] at these deck shoes for sissies” and, bigoted term notwithstanding, she’s probably right. For the purist, however, Sperry still sells the brown, two-eyed “A/O”—which, if you don’t belong to the yacht club, stands for “authentic original.”
Google topped $15 billion in first quarter revenue but still reported lower costs per click while the industry shifts to less expensive mobile ads. Google’s quarterly results also fell short of Wall Street estimates, sending the newly split stock down about 2.6 percent to $542 a share in after-hours trading. “Google’s got a mobile problem just like a lot of companies,” said Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst with BGC Partners. Google told analysts on its earnings call that it expects mobile pricing will eventually surpass desktop. The search giant is working to prove that mobile clicks are more valuable. Indeed, Google and data tracking firms DataLogix and Acxiom are testing how to monitor consumer behavior all the way from ad views to the cash register, The Wall Street Journal reported. Google also is delivering new audience measurements to advertisers in areas like video display, thanks to deals with Nielsen and comScore. More effective measuring tools like these are key to driving the price of clicks, analysts said. $15.4 billion in total revenue represented an increase of 19 percent from the year before. Google sites ad revenue reached $10.5 billion, up 21 percent from the year before. Network revenue, comprised of partner sites, of $3.4 billion was up 4 percent year-over-year. $3.45 billion in profits, up $3.35 billion from a year ago. Paid clicks were up 1 percent versus Q4 2013 and improved 26 percent year-over-year. Cost per click was down 9 percent year-over-year and flat sequentially.