Merrell, Outdoor-Apparel Maker, Hires Hill Holliday

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Shop Named AOR After a Review

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Boston-based Hill Holliday was selected to serve as agency of record for Merrell, a maker of outdoor shoes and clothing, after a pitch.

In a statement, Merrell, which had been working with a group of small shops, said that part of the goal of the review was to focus its creative efforts in one larger shop.

The 30-year-old marketer is based in Grand Rapids, Mich., but has operations in about 150 countries. It maintains local websites in a number of them, including China, Russia, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Africa and Chile. Merrell started out by marketing hiking boots, then shoes and sandals. In 2006 it began selling apparel, bags and accessories.

Merrell is part of Wolverine Worldwide, which owns others shoe brands, including Hush Puppies and Sebago. Wolverine also has the exclusive footwear license for brands such as Harley-Davidson and Patagonia. According to Kantar, the company spends about $10 million a year in U.S. measured media.

"We were impressed with Hill Holliday's passion for Merrell and their belief in our growth potential," Merrell VP-Global Marketing Craig Throne said in a statement. "The agency's big-picture approach to modern marketing ... from big brand ideas to retail solutions, is an ideal fit for Merrell's future brand direction."

Hill Holliday CEO Mike Sheehan said that part of the reason the agency got the win was it "track record of leveraging customer loyalty to expand a brand's presence and help business." During the pitch, he said, Merrell had challenged Hill to come up with ways to "break the category rules" to expand its brand.

A promo for the Spring 2013 collection is expected to be the agency's first work for Merrell.

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