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KEN FREITES TIMBERLAND

By Published on .

Neither rain nor sleet nor an avalanche of new competitors has knocked Timberland Co. off the top of the outdoor footwear mountain.

But it takes more than a force of nature to get Ken Freites to take credit.

"It really is a team effort here," says Mr. Freites, 35, the company's VP-marketing until May, when he was named VP-community enterprises.

Selflessness is a requisite characteristic for employees at Timberland. This team spirit helped generate $418 million in sales in 1993, up 43.6% from the previous year. All this with a $7 million ad budget, $5 million of that allocated to print.

Granted, Timberland was positioned well when "grunge" dressing took off among young Americans. But savvy marketing has helped.

Unlike many other outdoor shoe and apparel marketers, Timberlands advertising describes its products, not its consumers. A TV and print campaign last year from Mullen Advertising, Wenham, Mass. featured boots splashing through puddles and trudging across rugged terrain. The tag line: "Boots, shoes, clothing. Wind, water, Earth and sky."

Yet, it's Timberlands's international anti-racism ad campaign that reflects the selflessness permeating the company.

Mr. Fretes says " Give racism the boot" print effort was started in 1991 with Timberland's German ad team, which wanted a campaign speaking out against the rise of hate crimes in that country. He and other Timberland executives applauded the idea and saw it as a global effort.

The company's social consciousness is even more manifest in its support of City Year, a national service organization comprising young people who commit a year to work voluntarily in the cities. Timberland donates nearly $1 million annually to those good works.

In his new-and newly created- post, Mr. Freites will be responsible for the Timberland "corporate citizenship" programs.

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