FILA UNIFIES $20 MIL ACC'T AT ARNELL GROUP: LATE '97 AD PUSH PLANNED FOR NEW GRANT HILL SHOE

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Fila USA consolidated its $20 million advertising account at Arnell Group Brand Consultancy, New York, and is finalizing a fourth-quarter push behind a new basketball shoe endorsed by pro hoopster Grant Hill.

The campaign will be the most extensive since The Hill was introduced in 1995. Spending hasn't been determined, but the push will encompass teaser ads and grass-roots promotions.

ARNELL BEAT OUT FCB

Arnell is handling work on The Hill after winning a creative shoot-out with Foote, Cone & Belding, New York. The latter's award-winning efforts for Fila have helped the brand double sales over the last four years while rising to No. 3 in the category, behind Nike and Reebok International.

But this year Fila has shown signs of faltering in the U.S. as it tries to balance its Italian fashion heritage with performance credentials.

Fila gave Arnell its women's business and additional assignments last year representing $7 million in spending. But this year the marketer became concerned about delivering disparate brand messages.

"The brand is facing some critical and complicated issues," said Howe Burch, VP-advertising for Fila USA. While praising FCB's work, he added, "Arnell has a lot of experience in corporate identity, branding and image development. Upper management felt the appropriate decision was to make this change to continue our transition from fashion to fashion/performance."

The Hill IV, the next shoe model endorsed by Mr. Hill, not only arrives in the midst of Fila's current branding struggle, but after the disappointing performance of Hill III last year. Mr. Burch said FCB's advertising delivered, but Fila's $100 shoe did not.

HILL IV ARRIVES NOV. 1

The Hill IV, launching Nov. 1, will be priced at $90. After eschewing retailer exclusives on Hills II and III, Fila has produced a limited number of a special Hill IV model that will be sold exclusively through select retailers, including Foot Action and Foot Locker. This special version, launching in October, is being teased in two spread ads appearing in the September issue of Slam, a basketball/hip-hop title.

Arnell's fourth-quarter push will include TV, print and outdoor ads. Point-of-purchase will also play a key role. The campaign retains the FCB-created "Change

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