New Berlin shop joins Reebok roster

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Reebok International has added Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, to its roster of agencies, tapping the fledgling shop to be agency of record for its running-shoe business.

Spending for that segment hasn't been disclosed, but by one estimate it could be as much as $30 million.

Reebok now has a dedicated agency for each of its three major product categories to be focused on in 1998. John Wardley, director of worldwide advertising, called the selection part of the marketer's new portfolio-agency approach.

The Heat, a unit of Heater Advertising, Boston, is Reebok's lead agency, handling branding and basketball; Lowe Howard-Spink, London, is responsible for the marketer's global soccer business.

The marketer's annual U.S. ad expenditures are put at $92 million.

Executives wouldn't comment on the new agency's creative approach, but it will be thematically linked via tagline to the global branding campaign being launched in mid-January.

"In a strategic sense, yes, it will be linked to the Heat work. But in an executional sense, it will not," said Mr. Wardley. "We're not going for one particular look in all our advertising, but we do want it all grounded in the same strategy."


Berlin's work is likely to start in February. While runners will be a target, the campaign will be given a significant TV push to reach a broader audience.

The ads will promote two key cushioning technologies--DMX and 3-D Ultralight--that are found in other products, including basketball shoes. Running has always been the key proving ground to establish technology credentials in the athletic-footwear industry.

Berlin beat out another Lowe Group agency, Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, and McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Seattle. Berlin may pick up additional Reebok assignments as well.

"Anything's possible," said Mr. Wardley.

Mr. Wardley came to know agency principals Andy Berlin and Ewen Cameron during his previous stint as a global ad executive for Coca-Cola Co.

"The sports shoe market is very fashion-oriented, but running is so individualistic," said Mr. Cameron. "That kind of psychological underpinning, coupled with communicating Reebok's product-innovation, provides for an interesting opportunity for us."

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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