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Converse is adding a page to its playbook with a new branding campaign targeted to teens.

In print ads from Arnold Communications, Boston, the footwear marketer will feature its new ECO outdoors sports line, as well as its sneakers, and basketball and skateboarding shoes. The campaign, aimed at Converse's core 12-to-18-year-old consumers, will appear in magazines such as Spin, YM and Transworld Skateboarder.

Converse would not disclose spending, but Jennifer Murray, VP-marketing communications, said it will be more than the company has ever spent on branding work. Converse spent $8 million in measured media in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting, and $5 million in the first nine months of 1998.

Converse has matched the slump in athletic footwear sales. The company reported net sales dropped to $251.9 million in the first nine months of 1998, off 30.5% from the comparable period in '97, mainly due to drops in the sales of basketball and children's shoes.


The footwear company-best known for the Chuck Taylor All-Star basketball shoe-has been diversifying into other sports the past few years.

"Our heritage is basketball . . . but we have been diversifying ourselves," Ms. Murray said.

Converse capitalized on the popularity of the Chuck Taylor model among skateboarders when it introduced the skate line, and will follow up in spring with the launch of the ECO brand, a line of shoes for outdoor activities. The company also plans a launch next month for its Converse Koosh Collection, a line

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