ROCKPORT UPDATES IMAGE WITH 'COMFORT' PHILOSOPHY: 1ST CAMPAIGN FROM KIRSHENBAUM EXTOLS INDIVIDUALITY

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A $4 million print and TV campaign for Rockport Co.-its first from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners-aims to give the shoes a more contemporary image.

The campaign also extols the virtues of individuality and comfort in men's footwear as a physical goal and a life philosophy.

"We saw a unique opportunity to talk about comfort to a group of people facing issues in their life that made this product relevant and viable for them," said Richard Kirshenbaum, co-chairman and chief creative officer at the New York agency. "The brand does have a real product benefit; it's not just style."

The consumer portion of the campaign will run in September through November issues of more than a dozen magazines, including Details, Fast Company, Forbes, Men's Health, The New Yorker and Wired.

REAL PEOPLE

The advertising uses real people from various walks of life, including Web site wizard Clint Rosemund of Razorfish and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmental lawyer for Riverkeeper.

The Rosemund ad copy reads, "I'm comfortable being a geek." In the Kennedy ad, Mr. Kennedy is seen holding a Harris hawk with copy that reads, "I'm comfortable suing polluters."

The TV campaign also features non-celebrities, including a telephone repairman and pastor.

All advertising ends with a new tagline: "Be comfortable. Uncompromise. Start with your feet."

Rockport's image has always been one of comfort and functionality, but the company is seeking a way to transcend that.

"We felt that we needed to redefine the comfort footwear category," said Linda Lewi, VP-brand marketing. "We want to brush away the older image of comfort and make it hip."

SALES UP 21.6%

Rockport saw unit sales rise 21.6% last year, even as the total footwear category declined 6% to 993 million pairs, according to Footwear Market Insights.

Kirshenbaum won Rockport's $7 million account in December, though spending is expected to hit $24 million in '98. The account, previously at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, was put into review last October.

"We were not happy with the media strategies that Leo Burnett was advising us on," Ms. Lewi said. "They're very traditional. The brand needed to become contemporary. They weren't willing to take risks. The essential conservatism of

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