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Lady Foot Locker Tunes Into the Street for Back-to-School

NEW YORK — A marriage of music and sports is at the heart of Lady Foot Locker’s forthcoming ad campaign.<br><br>In time for back-to-school shopping, the chain will barrage shoppers with images of Mary J. Blige doing double Dutch jump rope...

NEW YORK — A marriage of music and sports is at the heart of Lady Foot Locker’s forthcoming ad campaign.

In time for back-to-school shopping, the chain will barrage shoppers with images of Mary J. Blige doing double Dutch jump rope in a white Reebok warmup suit, Adidas-clad women dancing in an airport and a street-smart-looking pair in Puma leaning on a boom box. These and other fall TV and print ads show a shift for Lady Foot Locker.

Swift to the fact that women are buying its activewear for casual pursuits, not just athletic ones, the retailer is trying to spruce up its image with more fashion-conscious marketing, advertising and merchandising. At its store on West 34th Street here, for example, there are oversized black-and-white photographs of WNBA star Lisa Leslie and other well-known athletes in relaxed poses.

Stacy Cunningham, senior vice president of marketing for Foot Locker, said, “Lady Foot Locker has really rejuvenated itself with product, people and other things. It was very important for us as marketers and advertisers to present all these changes in an energetic and entertaining way.”

She declined to reveal the budget.

Interestingly, the retailer, which relies on selling athletic products for the bulk of its sales, had never combined athletics and music to plug its labels. “It’s really been a linear story. We’ve done a lot of print in the past and ran a couple of commercials last year. But prior to that, we hadn’t done any TV for a few years.”

But, well aware that musicians often carry more clout with consumers than pro athletes, at least when it comes to fashion, Lady Foot Locker’s fall campaign will bow Friday with the Reebok spot featuring Blige. Chris Robinson, who directed her new video, “Love @ First Sight,” also directed the commercial. She and P. Diddy shared the executive producer role for her new album, “Love & Life.” For the commercial, Blige did her own double-Dutching, while a few stylish young women join in or watch from a staged brownstone stoop.

“Kids watch TV and we knew we needed to be there,” Cunningham said.

AKA Advertising, an agency here, developed the creative, as well as the one for Adidas, which, with its choreographed dancers, is likewise reminiscent of a music video. Like the Reebok spots, the Adidas commercials have a multicultural cast and play up the fashion quotient. The Adidas spots close with “Wow, you’ll be surprised what you find at Lady Foot Locker.”

AKA was also the creative force behind two new print ads, one for Puma and one for Everlast. Aimed at fashion-conscious shoppers, the Puma ad hints at that with the poor-boy caps worn by the two models. While not exactly fashion-forward, those accessories are somewhat avant-garde for a mammoth athletic chain. To that point, the Puma ad will break in September issues of Cosmopolitan, Cosmo Girl, Lucky, Jane and Teen People, and the Everlast one bows in October issues of Cosmo Girl and YM.