REEBOK KICKS OFF SEARCH FOR CHIEF MARKETING EXEC;CAMPAIGN LAUNCH FITS IN WITH HUNT TO FILL NEW SENIOR ADVERTISING POST AT FOOTWEAR GIANT

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Reebok International, set to launch a pivotal ad campaign marking an evolution of its "Planet Reebok" marketing theme, is looking for a chief marketing officer.

A Reebok spokesman wouldn't confirm the search. But insiders say the hunt is on to fill the new post of chief marketing officer or VP-strategic marketing, with a salary in the mid-six figures. The executive would report to President Robert Meers.

SHAREHOLDERS PRESSURE CHAIRMAN

The search and the new campaign take on added significance in light of the pressure Reebok shareholders are placing on Chairman Paul Fireman to spur profits and pump up the No. 2 footwear marketer's sagging stock price. Experts believe Reebok's share of the $13 billion athletic footwear market fell about 1 point last year to just more than 20%, while Nike gained 2 to 3 points to about 33%.

The mandate for the new executive will be to further unify the company's disparate marketing and product development groups.

Reebok began moving in that direction last summer, with various divisions collaborating on a marketing, product and merchandising concept dubbed "Mobius." Product should hit stores in February; ads from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, arrive sooner.

Reebok's headhunter is said to be poking about Young & Rubicam, New York, for candidates, due to the agency's international expertise. Within Reebok, Dave Ropes, VP-integrated marketing services, is also said to be in the running.

This activity is happening just weeks before new creative from Burnett breaks, introducing the copy line, "This is my planet." Retailers have been impressed by the campaign.

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