Converse repositions itself for '98

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On the heels of the resuscitation of its Chuck Taylor All Star brand, Converse is repositioning itself around the 80-year-old marque.

The athletic footwear marketer will dump as many as eight other brands that had fragmented its image in recent years.

The consolidation will be seen on retail shelves beginning early next year, said Jim Solomon, Converse senior VP-marketing. He added the company will promote a unified corporate identity in packaging and advertising.


In an effort to marry its retro-fashion heritage with cutting-edge style, marketing will center on controversial National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman.

Support for Converse's 1998 product line will begin in mid-January with spot TV and outdoor in major markets, plus national ads on cable networks ESPN and MTV, during NBA telecasts and in consumer magazines.

Houston Herstek Favat, Boston, handles creative.

Spending for the campaign was not disclosed, but Mr. Solomon said because Converse is driving for double-digit sales growth, ad support likely will be greater than last year.

Converse spent only $5.3 million on advertising in 1996, considerably less than in recent years, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

After closing 1996 as the industry's No. 7--the second consecutive year where its market share slipped--Converse had a strong first quarter, according to The Sporting Goods Intelligence.

A 57% increase in sales over first-quarter 1996 moved Converse to No. 4 for the same period this year. The company attributed that change to the success of its line of Chuck Taylor All Star 2000 basketball shoes.


Converse will use two versions of its logo on shoes for 1998. The latest version, the Chuck Taylor patch that includes the words "Converse All Star," will appear on most shoes; the other simply has the words "Converse All Star" inside a rectangle.

All designs but the Classic 500 will now carry those words, nearly completing the unification of performance and fashion lines Converse kept separate in the past.

The All Star Rodman shoes, available next January, incorporate Mr. Rodman's sun tattoo design into the logo.

On others, the patches will appear in new places and in different colors.

Contributing: Jeff Jensen.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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