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Foot Locker has taken on a broader playing field with a new advertising platform uniting its Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker and Kids Foot Locker brands.

The new advertising theme, "Play big," aims to position the brand as a resource not just for sports, but for life. The strategy debuted last week in a series of humorous ads from Deutsch, New York, that followed Foot Locker's recent consolidation of its $35 million-plus advertising accounts at the agency.

"We are a family of brands in that we all share a gene pool," said Vivian Behrens, Foot Locker worldwide senior VP-marketing, noting the "Play big" platform "is something that can be implemented, communicated and executed to reflect the personality of each division."


Previously, the Kids Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker campaigns had different agencies and creative strategies. Deutsch had handled only the flagship Foot Locker account, winning the unassigned Kids Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners (AA, Aug. 3). Western Media handles broadcast buying.

"The `Play big' platform allows us the luxury of having all the brands under one umbrella," said Kathy Delaney, Deutsch partner and executive creative director.

The previous positioning, which categorized Foot Locker as an "athletically inspired lifestyle store," was too limiting and "grounded [Foot Locker] in sports," said Theresa Renaud, Deutsch senior VP-account director.

In the new effort, Foot Locker is positioned as "not just about sports [but] about a resource for your total vital life," said Ms. Delaney.


Ms. Behrens said this new positioning reflects a current trend toward individualism. "Each of us is a player in our own definition, whether we play big in our jobs, a parental role" or another outside area, she said.

"We needed to come up with a positioning that [made Foot Locker] more than just a shoe store," Ms. Renaud said.

A unit of the $6.62 billion Ventnor Group, which also owns Kinney Shoes and Champs Sports, Foot Locker doesn't break out its sales. But the company said its three Foot Locker brands account for 5% of the total $65 billion athletic footwear and apparel market in the U.S.

The first "Play big" spots are vendor-related, showcasing Nike and Adidas sports shoes. Three feature New Jersey Nets player Keith Van Horn and spoof the late 1970s TV program "The White Shadow"; one even features a cameo of the show's star, Ken Howard.

Another ad shows a runner who gets some assistance from forest animals. The advertising is running on network and cable TV and will be supported with print.


The goal of the ads, Ms. Delaney said, is "to embrace the fun, lighter side" of play.

Added Ms. Renaud, "It's a category with a lot of anguish. We're trying to create a voice without anguish."

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