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JOHN MARTIN HEALTHTEX

By Published on .

Apparel in the package-goods category seems an unlikely fit. But then there's John Martin.

Mr. Martin, 51, is director of marketing services for children's clothing marketer Healthtex, a division of VF Corp. Prior to joining Healthtex 21/2 years ago (and even before a previous stint with the company), he cut his marketing teeth with two package-goods giants, H. J. Heinz Co. and Chesebrough-Pond's.

From them, he learned the gospel of what he calls "building a brand architecture."

"Healthtex is sold as a brand, rather than [as] individual products," he says of the ad and marketing strategy.

The branding approach is consistent through all Healthtex's advertising, sales promotion, relationship marketing, telemarketing and point-of-purchase.

"This is true integrated marketing," he says.

Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., has handled the company's $5 million ad budget since 1991, and "they know how to market the brand; they understand what we want," says Mr. Martin of the agency.

Sales have grown 42% and advertising awareness has increased 35% since the Martin campaign began, and market share is "up drastically."

Not incidentally, the ads, targeted to mothers, have scored extremely well in creative competitions.

The long-copy spread that probably has received the most attention features a photo of a smiling baby and the headline, "When you're bald and toothless, you'd better wear cute clothes."

"[The campaign is] meant to be fun," Mr. Martin says.

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