Fila USA in the late 90s shifted its media strategy to act more like athletic footwear leaders Nike and Reebok, starting with its Super Bowl debut in 1997, a commercial by FCB/Leber Katz Partners starring sophomore 76ers guard Jerry Stackhouse.
The $1.5 million ad buy meant more for Fila than the start of a new-product campaign. Having lately risen to third place in its category from sixth, executives viewed a mass-media effort as a means to close the gap with No. 2 Reebok.
"It's a chance to marginalize Reebok once again in a high-profile environment," Peter DePasquale, senior VP-group management director at FCB/Leber Katz, told Ad Age before the game. "Fila has gotten to No. 3. Now we're targeting No. 2 long term."
On Jan. 26, 1997, however, that meant going up against Nike, which was also in the game, and also with an NBA star (Penny Hardaway). Fickle consumers and tough competition prevented Fila from ultimately taking the No. 2 spot.
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