The Power of Polarization with Tom Suharto

on brand tom suharto

Tom Suharto leads global strategy at Forsman & Bodenfors where his clients include Volvo, Crocs, Baileys, and H&M. Prior to that, he was at Wieden+Kennedy working on iconic brands like Nike and Disney. We discussed all of this and more, this week on the On Brand podcast.

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About Tom Suharto

Tom Suharto leads global strategy at Forsman & Bodenfors, one of the most creatively awarded agencies of the past decade. His clients at Forsman include Volvo, Polestar, Crocs, Goldman Sachs, Baileys, and H&M, to name a few. Before joining Forsman, Tom spent a decade at Wieden+Kennedy, starting in their Shanghai office where he helped to launch Shanghai Disneyland and led strategy on Nike China. Then in Portland, Oregon, where he worked on Nike Women and Just Do It campaigns, helped launch Samsung flagship phones, and led strategy on Facebook Groups.

Episode Highlights

The Crocs brand is certainly having a moment … Following a recent trip to New York where my daughter was most excited about visiting the Crocs store (!), I had to talk to Tom about his work with Crocs. “With the pandemic, people started prioritizing comfort and Crocs leaned into that. And being unapologetic about being who you are.”

The power of polarization. “We talk a lot with Crocs about polarization—how you want people to (ideally) love you or (not-so-ideally) hate you.” But you want that strong emotional response.

The staying power of Just Do It. This work is cited so often, I wanted to dig deeper with someone who worked with this campaign while at Wieden+Kennedy. “For something like this to work, you need context. There needs to be a moment to meet. You also have to know your audience.” For Nike, this has always been the voice of the athlete. “That’s why Just Do It works.”

“Strategy in turbulent times is about prioritizing,” Tom shared of the uncertainty around a pending recession. “But brands adding value to people isn’t going out of style—even in a recession.”

What brand has made Tom smile recently? “I’m going to share a brand that made my kids smile, which, in turn, made me smile.” Just like my Crocs story! Tom told the story of the IRL “MrBeast Burger” that he and his kids love at the American Dream mall in New Jersey.

To learn more, check out the Forsman & Bodenfors website and connect with Tom on LinkedIn.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!