Amanda Beard in Speedo’s ads.

NEW YORK — Speedo is making more than swimsuits and is launching its first national advertising campaign in over six years to tell consumers about the company’s new direction.<BR><BR>The ads are for the brand’s new Axcelerate...



NEW YORK — Speedo is making more than swimsuits and is launching its first national advertising campaign in over six years to tell consumers about the company’s new direction.

The ads are for the brand’s new Axcelerate Engineered by Speedo sportswear line and feature two of Speedo’s sponsored swimmers, Olympic gold medalists Amanda Beard and Michael Phelps. The multimillion-dollar campaign is part of a plan by The Warnaco Group, which distributes Speedo in North America, to build the brand outside of swimwear.

“We have traditionally used sports marketing as our key consumer communications vehicle, but the brand is fast evolving into new categories,” said Craig Brommers, Speedo’s vice president of marketing. “We felt it was time to speak directly with consumers about the evolution of the Speedo brand.”

In a separate development, Warnaco Swim Group on Thursday named Larry Burak as chief operating officer and Joe O’Neil as general merchandise manager of footwear, both new positions. Burak was most recently chief operating officer at Kellwood’s Koret of California division. O’Neil was an industry consultant and has had senior positions at Reebok, Fila and Nike.

The initial round of Speedo ads features a scantily clad Beard with tousled hair wearing performance pieces from the line. The $3 million campaign, which was designed in-house by Warnaco, started in March issues of Self and Shape, and will be expanded into other magazines such as Fitness and regional publications.

Beard won three medals in Athens and was recently featured in a three-page spread in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

The men’s component of the campaign shows a shirtless Phelps wearing Speedo boardshorts; those ads are running in the April and May issues of GQ and Men’s Journal.

Axcelerate was launched in sportswear for spring and has just begun to hit stores such as Marshall Field’s and Lady Foot Locker. The subbrand features brightly colored performance apparel that is designed to blend fashion and sport, and is being rolled out into intimates and men’s for fall selling.

Brommers said the company will evaluate the initial response to the marketing campaign, but will likely also launch ads for fall for the Axcelerate intimates line, as well as a broader print campaign with more magazines, plus newspapers and billboards.

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