ROLLERBLADE'S ADS BOAST TURBO CHARGE TECHNOLOGY: SKATE MAKER'S $10 MIL EFFORT TRIES TO REACH YOUNGER CROWD

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Rollerblade today launches a $10 million campaign from new agency Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, that pursues a younger, hipper group of consumers with a new technology called Turbo Charge.

Turbo Charge is said to allow users to push off with greater effect.

TARGETING TEENS

The campaign targets teens and consists of two TV spots airing exclusively on cable networks, primarily ESPN, and six spreads in various in-line skating magazines.

One TV spot depicts a relay race on Rollerblades set in a futuristic "Blade Runner"-like urban landscape. The other has a kid performing ground-shaking tricks on Rollerblades, triggering earthquakes all over the globe. The tagline: "Stay tuned."

Rollerblade is said to be considering running the ads in international markets, such as Italy, Germany and China.

The once-booming business has been slowing. According to Sporting Goods Intelligence, wholesale figures for the in-line segment dropped 13.8% last year to an estimated $625 million.

Rollerblade still boasts the largest share of the market, and its brand name has become practically synonymous with in-line skates. But Rollerblade fears it has lost the edge with the young people who in large part have driven the growth of the category this decade.

While niche brands like Bauer, K-2 and UltraWheels have ridden the crest of interest in hockey and "extreme sports" played in skates, Rollerblade has remained positioned as a lifestyle brand despite a presence in every niche.

The competition is about to become stiffer. Nike, which owns Bauer parent Canstar, kicked off advertising in late December to pave the way for a gradual rollout of Nike brand in-line skates and hockey products.

Contributing: Jeff Jensen.

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