Hummer markets shoes for offroad set

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Consumers who love their Hummers, or covet someone else's, can now put their feet in a pair of Hummer-branded shoes.

As General Motors' Hummer division this month unveils its newest models-the H3T and H2-SUT-one-year-old Hummer Footwear in February will add to its current line of men's shoes and boots items such as waterproof outdoor boots, shearling boots and slippers.

"This is a lifestyle brand," said Jordan Saliman, president of Hummer Footwear, a division of EJ Footwear. "We want to participate in consumers lives from the time they get up to the time they go to bed."

Lending a car brand to merchandise is increasingly common. "Licensed products enhance a brand's equity," said Shaz Kahng, head of strategy at global brand consulting firm Wolff-Olins, an Omnicom Group unit. "For consumers, the brand conveys how that person wants to be perceived." People who cannot afford a Hummer can achieve the cachet of ownership by wearing a Hummer shoe.

leading the pack

Among the Big Three automakers, Hummer parent General Motors leads the pack in worldwide sales of licensed product, according to License! Magazine. In 2002, GM sold $2 billion in licensed products, DaimlerChrysler, $1.5 billion and Ford, $1.1 billion. Chrysler Group's Jeep introduced branded shoes in late 2002, and American Honda Motor Co.'s Honda motorcycle division last year launched a line of boots and shoes.

Hummer shoes launched last February. Print ads, from independent Thompson & Co., Memphis, Tenn., debut this year. Marketing centers on current and prospective Hummer vehicle owners. Hummer dealerships host promotions where test-drivers are given Hummer shoes to wear.

GM bought the rights to Hummer consumer product development and marketing in North America in late 1999 from AM General Corp., maker of the military Humvee vehicles. Hummer prices range from $50,000 to over $100,000; the shoes cost from $100 to $300. Mr. Saliman would not provide dollar sales figures, but said the number of retailers selling Hummer shoes will rise from 200 in 2003 to close to 500 by the end of 2004.

Hummer Footwear aims to differentiate from competitors by selling through higher end retailers and using unusual materials, such as Yak leather. "We designed the footwear from the ground up, based on the image of Hummer," Mr. Saliman said. "We give retailers a story, bring some show biz to the shoe biz."

contributing: jean halliday

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