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Reebok Narrows Marketing Focus For 2007

Reebok is hoping less will be more in 2007. As the one-year anniversary of its acquisition by Adidas approaches, Reebok has unveiled a three-year plan consolidating its marketing efforts.



Reebok is hoping less will be more in 2007.

As the one-year anniversary of its acquisition by Adidas approaches, Reebok has unveiled a three-year plan consolidating its marketing efforts.

“We need to focus on fewer things and do them better,” said Paul Harrington, president and chief executive officer. “In the past, we’ve had 10 different campaigns across 10 different categories, so before we had the consumer registering any of it, we were on to the next thing. We are getting rid of some of the peripheral activities, and the big news in 2007 is that we are just focusing on two things.”

Those two things are a single spring and a single fall ad campaign. In the beginning of April, the Run Easy campaign will be launched, followed by Best On, Best Off — as in, on and off the field — in August. The first two months of both campaigns will feature television commercial saturation, followed by print, Internet and grass-roots marketing for the remainder of the season.

Harrington would not disclose spending, but said that when “Run Easy” begins, it will be the company’s biggest running campaign ever.

The investment likely will hit Reebok’s profits in 2007. Adidas has lowered earnings projections for the brand, revising the previous 20 percent growth estimate to 15 percent, due to increased marketing spending in the new year.

“Run Easy” is the first campaign in a three-year streamlined business plan. Future ads will introduce products along with marketing concepts. The “Run Easy” idea sprang from Reebok’s existing strength in the footwear category, according to Ulrich Becker, chief marketing officer, who joined the brand in May from the parent, where he was head of global brand marketing and managing director of Adidas International B.V. in Amsterdam.

“We have fantastic running shoes, so we want to get more people running, and we came up with an inspirational message to get not just the hard-core runners but also new people,” Becker said. “For us it’s not about sponsoring the fastest guy winning the marathon; it is about having as many people as possible starting the marathon wearing our shoes.”

That describes what Reebok sees as the position it is building in the active market, according to Bob Munroe, president of Reebok USA. “We are focused on a new user, who is not necessarily striving to be the best, but who wants to be her personal best,” Munroe said.

Best On, Best Off will promote the “greatest hits of the brand,” said Becker, in products and in bold-faced names associated with the brand, from Scarlett Johansson to Peyton Manning and Jay-Z.

When Adidas bought the Canton, Mass., athletic firm for $3.8 billion last January, Reebok had just come off a year when orders were down 22 percent from the previous year. Adidas Group ceo Herbert Hainer said last April that Reebok would need to streamline its marketing, downplaying the hip-hop ties on which it traditionally relied.