Columbia Sportswear taps McCann Worldgroup

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Credit: Columbia

Columbia Sportswear, the family-owned outerwear company, has hired McCann Worldgroup as its global agency of record for marketing services on the Columbia brand following a competitive review.

The Portland, Oregon-based company will work with a team of agencies including 215 McCann for brand and creative, UM for media and analytics and Weber Shandwick for public relations. McCann's assignment is for the Columbia brand and doesn't include other brands within the Columbia Sportswear Co., which include footwear company Sorel.

Columbia, which was founded in 1938, has been ramping up its marketing in recent years as sportswear continues its reign of popularity with consumers. In 2014, the company hired Stuart Redsun, a former marketer at Under Armour, as its first CMO. He spearheaded campaigns like 2015's "Tested Tough," which featured Columbia chairman Gert Boyle, who was 91 years old at the time. Redsun departed Columbia last September.

Recent efforts have been paying off. Columbia reported a 21 percent increase to $481.6 million in net sales for the second quarter ending June 30. On a conference call with analysts, company executives said they plan to promote "marketing stories" around the brand's Omni-Heat heating products and Star Wars collaborations this fall.

Columbia brand President Joe Boyle says the company was looking for an agency to help it do integrated work globally as it seeks to become the "No. 1 outdoor brand in the world."

Ethan Pochman, VP of global brand marketing for Columbia, says the company has a unique point of view and a rich heritage, and that McCann had a deep understanding of that. "We wanted somebody that we felt really got us," he says. Pochman joined Columbia in January from private health and wellness consumer products company Performance Health.

The Columbia brand previously worked with North for creative, BSSP for media and PMK for public relations.

"Columbia's proud heritage, their focus on strategic differentiation, and their sense of inclusivity all combine to make it one of the most admired brands in the industry," said Chris Macdonald, President, Advertising & Allied Agencies at McCann Worldgroup.

In August, McCann's owner Interpublic Group of Cos. cited its "open architecture" strategy for a win with Honeywell covering brand, advertising, PR, digital marketing, demand generation and corporate marketing across the company's strategic business groups. The strategy involves maintaining individual agencies' brands and their culture while giving clients access to multiple disciplines across its network.

Consultancy R3 estimates Columbia Sportswear's global media spending at around $80 million. Columbia Sportswear Co. spent $1.5 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media.

Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli

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