Spring Campaign Targets Women in Effort to Extend Brand

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Warnaco is launching a campaign to make Speedo, the brand best known for banana hammocks, trendy.
Modeling one of the new Speedo lines is swimmer Amanda Beard, five-time Olympic medal winner.

The onetime fully functional swimsuit brand will up the ante on advertising and celebrity seeding this year as it looks to evolve beyond the teeny-weeny men’s bikini into a fashion-forward portfolio of active wear, footwear and underwear for both men and women.

Print and outdoor campaign
Speedo’s $4 million-plus print and outdoor campaign this spring, created by fashion creative house KraftWorks, New York, will still nod to its performance roots by featuring one of its many Speedo-sponsored Olympic athletes. Ads will highlight seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard, whose appearance in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition has driven interest outside the sports arena. The campaign, shot by fashion photographer Michael Thompson, will run in fashion titles such as W, Lucky and Surface rather than the fitness titles Speedo has previously favored. It will be supported by placements in viral e-newsletters such as Daily Candy and ties to high-profile parties with W magazine in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

“We want to layer the cool factor over [Speedo’s] more rational equities,” said Craig Brommers, VP-marketing for Speedo. The reasoning is clear: While Speedo has dominated swimwear since it was founded in 1928, the segment totals only $3.4 billion annually, so growth opportunities clearly have to be sought “outside of water,” Mr. Brommers said.

In 2000, Speedo began to expand slowly into flip-flops and other footwear, but in the last year it has added active wear and a line of underwear. Now, Mr. Brommers said, its marketing message needs to evolve along with the line.

Female targeted
Choosing a female spokesmodel for its largest effort in many years is not an accident. Speedo hopes over the next few years to transform into a more predominantly female-targeted brand (vs. its previous 50-50 split) because women shop more than men and tend to better drive a brand’s image, Mr. Brommers said.

Consumer research and the fact that Women’s Wear Daily ranks Speedo the fourth most recognized sports brand behind Nike, Adidas and Reebok -- all of which have successfully extended themselves -- has given Speedo execs hope that the brand can pretty stealthily move beyond its link to the male racing brief, which today comprises less than 1% of its sales. Mr. Brommers acknowledged that there is always “a snicker or two when the brand name comes up” in focus groups, but that mostly "perception," "fit," "quality" and "best-in-class" trump the titters.

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