By  on July 16, 2014

Ecko Unltd, owned by Iconix Brand Group Inc., is banking on its next ad campaign to rev up interest from its target Gen Z market. The brand, best known in the late Nineties and early 2000s as a hip-hop line, is putting a heavy focus on resurrecting its business and re-creating its overall image. Ecko will be returning to J.C. Penney Co. Inc. stores next week after an absence of several years.

“This is our first foray post-Seth Gerszberg and Marc Ecko,” said James Ling, vice president of marketing for the men’s division of Iconix. “We’re trying to freshen it to that 2.0 level. We’re going after that 16-year-old consumer who didn’t know what Ecko was growing up but is now discovering the brand.”

Ecko was founded in 1993 by Marc Ecko with investments from his twin sister, Marci, and friend, Seth Gerszberg. Iconix bought a 51 percent stake in 2009 and the remaining interest last year. Gerszberg is no longer involved in the label and Ecko is concentrating on his upscale contemporary label, Cut & Sew.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how the new generation aligns with the rhino brand,” Ling said.

To appeal to the young man of today, Ecko has turned to hip-hop artist B.o.B to front its campaign. The advertisement has the artist sporting sweatpants and a star-printed shirt against a bold and graphic background by the artist Claudio Limon.

“If you talk to B.o.B, he’ll tell you he’s not a rapper, he’s not a singer, producer or whatever. He is preaching ‘no genre,’” said Ling. “He embodies a lot of frustrations we have as a brand. We’re not a hip-hop brand, a skate brand, we appeal to a wide demographic.”

He said that was key to connecting with today’s customer.

“If you look at any teen’s iPhone today, they don’t listen to one genre of music, they have a little this and a little that,” he said. “Teens don’t define themselves like they used to 20 years ago.”

The campaign will feature other notables as well, including Gilbert Meléndez, a UFC fighter and Manny Santiago, a professional skater. “The Hispanic consumer is a huge supporter of the brand,” he said.

The ads will run in Complex, Nylon Guys, UFC 360 magazine, and digitally on complex.com, HypeBeast and others.

The video portion of the advertorial will debut on Tuesday on complex.com and its affiliate Web sites. Ling also said there will be a heavy push on Facebook and Instagram with sponsored ads.

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