Oakley sunglasses: Scott Bowers

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Sunglasses marketer Oakley relies on sports endorsements to position itself as the top performance brand for athletes. But Scott Bowers, 39, VP-sports marketing, credits the products themselves. "We look at Oakley as a design and technology company," he says.

More than 400 athletes at the 2000 Olympics wore Oakley shades; the company maintains a year-round high profile at events from motocross to golf. "The majority of our marketing is very instinctual," says Mr. Bowers, previously director of sports marketing and a 13-year Oakley veteran.

Product-focused ads appear in mainstream magazines and athlete-focused efforts in vertical sports publications. Oakley handles advertising in-house.

The U.S. non-prescription sunglass industry grew 4% to $2.2 billion in 2000, according to Jobson Optical Research/Sunglass Asso-ciation of America. Oakley, which targets the high end, saw its sales grow 41% to $363 million.

Revenue kept climbing in 2001, with first-half net sales of $225 million, up 38% from a year ago. In August, Oakley lost business when its biggest client, Sunglass Hut, was acquired by Luxottica Group. But Oakley has recouped some distribution through deals with Footlocker and Champs, and purchasing sunglass retailer Iacon. Meanwhile, Oakley is expanding into footwear, apparel, watches and prescription eyewear.

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