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Wolverine World Wide's Hush Puppies today jumps into TV for the first time in a decade, as the shoe brand goes more mainstream and tries to reach younger customers.

In the spring campaign's print ads, Hush Puppies will continue making the fashion statement that has resulted in the brand's huge comeback in recent years.

"The brand obviously still attracts a wide fashion audience," said Jeff Lewis, VP-marketing for Hush Puppies. "But really the brand is more mainstream and TV is a broad-reach vehicle."


Mr. Lewis wouldn't discuss the ad budget, but the addition of TV could raise spending to $5 million from the $3 million Hush Puppies has been spending annually on print.

Bozell, Southfield, Mich., has created six offbeat spots for the spring campaign, targeting 18-to-34-year-olds. The 30-second commercials will air on national cable, including ESPN2, MTV and VH1; and on a spot basis in the brand's top four markets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The first breaks on VH1 today and the rest March 10.

All spots show only the feet of reclining Hush Puppies wearers, whose views of the world are favorably changed by moving their feet. In one spot, a good-looking, nervous young man with big ears proposes marriage to a woman wearing new Blue Bayou slip-ons. She accepts, after moving her feet to cover her view of his ears.

Other new colors being introduced in the commercials include orange-yellow Jamaican Sun and Old Bark, a light brown whose name pokes fun at the brand's basset hound mascot. All the spots retain the 2-year-old slogan "We invented casual." In three spots, the slogan is the only narration and appears at the end of the ad.

On the print side, Bozell tapped famed photographer Richard Avedon for a six-page insert breaking in the April issue of Vanity Fair and then in Elle, Detour, In Style and Interview. The print target market skews somewhat older, at 25-to-45-year-olds.

It has been that older group and the fashion positioning-with the addition of new, brighter colors to its classic design-that have won Hush Puppies huge sales gains in the past couple of years. In 1994, only 65,000 pairs of the classic suede shoes were sold in the U.S. Last year, sales topped 1.5 million.


Wolverine also has a major Hush Puppies push under way in the U.K., where it bought back the license to the brand name last August. The company is exporting the fashion positioning, with recently launched print ads for the hot-hued suedes. Delaney Fletcher Bozell, London, created the ads, running in fashion magazines.

British designer Paul Smith is selling the shoes at his stores and featured them in his Paris show.

Said Mr. Lewis: "It's kind of fun watching it all over again."

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