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Headquarters: North Reading, Mass.

Sales: Estimated at $382 million worldwide in 1993; Converse expects sales to grow 15% in 1994.

Leadership: Gib Ford, president-CEO; Mickey Bell, senior VP-sales and marketing; Joanna Jacobson, senior VP-marketing; Ronald Ryan, senior VP-finance and administration; Eckhard Knoepke, VP-research and development; Roy Yun, director of design; Mary Obona, VP-advertising.

Industry ranking: No. 5 in U.S. athletic footwear market with 4.24% share, up from 3.5% in 1992, and will likely overtake Keds and L.A. Gear for third place by yearend.

Top shoe lines: Converse has boosted sales and market share on strength of its basketball shoes, like the Backjam and Run N' Slam, and its fashionable canvas "athleisure" brands, Chuck Taylor All-Star and Jack Purcell.

U.S. ad spending: $40 million in 1994; will increase 30% in 1995.

Agency: Houston, Effler & Partners, Boston.

Recent success: The Run 'N Slam, endorsed by Phoenix Suns star Kevin Johnson, was introduced last fall and was the best selling basketball shoe of the 1993 back-to-school season. Noteworthy TV spot plugging the sneaker featured Mr. Johnson and singing group En Vogue.

Problem spot: Larry Johnson's back. Injuries to Converse's star basketball endorser kept him from playing much of the '93-94 National Basketball Association season, and decreased visibility hurt sales of Johnson-endorsed basketball shoes. Plus, Mr. Johnson's marketing persona, Grandmama, is wrinkling with age.

1994 challenges: Diversifying beyond its basketball and canvas strengths. This year has seen the rollout of a cross-training shoe line called Psycho Training; running and tennis shoes will be among the new lines to hit next spring.

Source: Advertising Age and company reports

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