Western Born, Island Worn

Agency: John McNeil Studio


The new generation of western culture has a style all its own. Looking to reflect the changing face of this rising community, Ariat teamed with creative partner John McNeil Studio (JMS), developing a strategy to position their new Hilo casual footwear as an alternative to the traditional western boot.

To understand this community and culture, JMS traveled to Gillette, Wyoming for the National High School Rodeo Finals to watch and interview the competitors in their element. They spoke with 30 young athletes from 13 different states and across 8 different rodeo events. In these candid conversations, JMS learned more about their lifestyles and backgrounds, their connection to rodeo, the styles and brands they are drawn to, their social and media behaviors and even their future aspirations. What emerged was a clear picture of enthusiastic athletes with cross-cultural backgrounds, interests and passions.

“These kids’ style is, of course, firmly planted in western and rodeo culture, but they put their own spin on it,” explains JMS ECD, Gerald Lewis. “They like traditional western wear, but they’re not afraid to blend it with a pair of sneakers, or board shorts and cut-off t-shirts.” With that in mind, JMS hatched the overarching theme, “Western Born, Island Worn”, bringing beach wear and western wear together. The campaign imagery features real rodeo athletes out of context, riding skateboards, on surfboards, and in island settings. Meanwhile, videos capture professional riders Clayton Sellars and Lefty Holman taking a day off from the bulls to hit the waves while a voiceover from rodeo announcer Clint Adkins narrates the action.

The result is a campaign spanning digital, TV, retail and social that champions the Ariat brand while spotlighting young athletes and their impact on rodeo and western style. “We love this kind of work,” continues Lewis. “It’s a beautifully simple way of portraying the shoes that also recognizes an exciting evolution in western culture and style. From the athletes, to the clients, to the creatives, we all had a great time bringing this campaign to life and we look forward to helping Ariat continue to tell these stories.”

This professional campaign titled 'Western Born, Island Worn' was published in United States in March, 2023. It was created for the brand: Ariat, by ad agency: John McNeil Studio. This Digital, Direct, and Film media campaign is related to the Fashion industry and contains 4 media assets. It was submitted 5 months ago.


Agency: John McNeil Studio
Founder + CEO: John McNeil
Executive Creative Director: Gerald Lewis
Creative Director: Matt Phelan
Executive Producer: Katy Hallowell
Assistant Producer: Jacob Acueza
Photographer: Jonathan Loomis
Program Manager: Alexa Schneier

Prod Co: The Annex
Director: Gerald Lewis
DOP: Zach Sky
Executive Producer: Katy Hallowell
Editor: Josh Blackman
Colorist: Josh Blackman
Music & Sound: Swell Music & Sound

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