Reebok's strategy: Play up vector logo

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Reebok International is kicking off a $40 million to $50 million global campaign that for the first time in its 108-year history centers on its vector logo.

Like McDonald's Corp.'s golden arches and the swoosh logo from archrival Nike, Reebok is hoping to create an iconic connection to its brand mark. The tagline for the 18-month effort will be "Wear the Vector. Outperform." The campaign was created by Arnell Group, New York, and produced by director Ridley Scott's production company, RSA USA. Media buying is handled by Omnicom Group's PHD in the U.S. and WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia outside the country.

The effort began Aug. 23 on national cable networks and breaks today on network TV.

"The importance of the campaign is to clarify the name of the vector," said Arnell CEO Peter Arnell, "and to allow the consumer to have an insight into the reason why they have that fantastic badge."

full stable

The campaign will attempt to make the vector symbolize both performance and authenticity. Reebok's stable of athlete endorsers will be featured together and separately in both TV and print executions. Reebok's top-selling shoe endorser, National Basketball Association star Allen Iverson, as well as National Football League star Ray Lewis and top-ranked tennis phenom Andy Roddick will be joined by several of Reebok's less well-known athletes, including Swedish heptathlete Carolina Kluft and Russian gymnast Alexei Nemov.

As for authenticity, Reebok will hearken back to 1895, when the company was first formed and known as J.W. Foster & Sons. Mr. Foster provided his running shoes to the British Olympic team for the 1924 games, which were depicted in the 1980 film "Chariots of Fire." The marketer changed its name to Reebok, after an African gazelle, in 1958.

The initial 60-second spot in the campaign opens with dramatized historic footage of the original company and founder. The scene of Mr. Foster producing the world's first pair of running spikes transitions to Reebok's current athletes being powered by the vector.

"For whatever reason, the vector had not been front and center as a marketing effort," said Mr. Arnell. "We wanted to go back to the essence of the company. We had an incredibly valuable and beautiful identity that had never been brought forward."

Brian Povinelli, Reebok director-worldwide advertising, said the company had been developing the campaign for the past six months, looking for a lead in to the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics.

right time

"The reason why it's the right time now to bring the mark forward stems off the two league deals," Mr. Povinelli said, referring to Reebok's combined $450 million rights fees paid to the National Football League and National Basketball Association to be their exclusive apparel supplier. "Those deals really put that mark out there in front of millions of people throughout almost the entire year. While a lot of people know that the vector is Reebok, a lot don't."

Reebok filed for trademark patents on the word mark "Outperform" on Jan. 31, just five days after its popular "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker" commercials first appeared on the Super Bowl. The plan initially was to have the vector campaign replace a limited-time Terry Tate effort but the latter proved so popular both will now run concurrently. "Terry Tate was really just a campaign to generate buzz and awareness for the brand," said Mr. Povinelli. But Reebok discovered "it had a lot of legs beyond just an ad."

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, Reebok holds 18% of the foot and sports apparel market, second to Nike's 35%.

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