FINDING A NEW BALANCE: New Balance is making the leap from cult running brand to a competitor in the athletic arena with its biggest global ad campaign. Less than a year after Rob DeMartini took over as chief executive officer, the Boston-based company is tripling its media budget with a fresh ad campaign: “Love/Hate. This is the new balance.”

This story first appeared in the March 26, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We’ve been a very quiet brand in a very loud category,” said Norma Delaney, head of global advertising and media manager, who declined to reveal the budget. “This isn’t just an advertising campaign — it’s a recasting of the brand, communicating more loudly what we stand for.” The multimedia campaign, which includes five TV spots that capture the essence of the runner’s love-hate struggle, first airs Thursday during NCAA men’s basketball tournament games. Each ad illustrates how New Balance products help tip the balance toward love in an athlete’s love-hate struggle with running.

SPEEDO MALARIA CRUSADE: Speedo International and supermodel Alek Wek are teaming to promote World Swim Against Malaria, a global fund-raising initiative intended to get a million people around the world swimming on April 5. Wek was born in Sudan and contracted malaria as a child. “Having seen and experienced the devastating effects of this disease, I was passionate to get behind Speedo World Swim Against Malaria,” said Wek, who models a special Speedo swimsuit designed for the campaign. Local swims are being organized, or people can swim on their own and record it on, where swimmers also may register for organized swims for a $5 registration fee — which buys a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide. Speedo employees and athletes, including gold medalists Michael Phelps and Amanda Beard, will participate in the swim and fund-raising.

RODDICK’S CHARITY PLAY: If charity isn’t enough to get men shopping, perhaps the chance to play (Wii) tennis with Andy Roddick is. In honor of Lacoste’s 75th anniversary, Bloomingdale’s hosted an event at its Manhattan flagship Monday night, where the tennis star signed autographs and played Wii tennis with shoppers. Ten percent of Lacoste sales from the event went to the Andy Roddick Foundation, which has raised $11 million for abused, at-risk and terminally ill children since its 2001 inception. “When I started the foundation, I was 18 and I felt like I could relate to kids a little more, and I really liked the thought of being able to alter someone’s life for the better,” said Roddick. To fete the iconic French brand’s birthday, Bloomingdale’s also dedicated the flagship’s windows to Lacoste through the end of the month. The total raised was not tallied by press time.

PENFIELD WARMS UP TO WOMEN’S: Outerwear firm Penfield, which started its men’s business in 1975, took a hiatus in the Nineties and early this decade and relaunched men’s last fall, is finally launching women’s for fall. The down coats and vests, wholesaling from $90 to $105, come in standard colors as well as Eighties-inspired color blocks. Women’s will be available in an estimated 60 doors in the first season, about half the number of the men’s business.

OMGIRL ROAMS: OMgirl is all grown up. The seven-year-old Los Angeles-based line, which has its roots in the yoga aesthetic, is about to launch Roam, a collection designed for spa weekends, cruise vacations and resort getaways. “It was conceived as a travel line,” said OMgirl founder Meghan Fielding. “When I started OMgirl, I lived in yoga clothes 24-7. As I got older, this became my answer to spa trips in Palm Desert, shopping at Barneys, lunch at Ivy at the Shore.” The first major rollout for the brand since OMgirl bowed, Roam will be in stores by the end of April, both in spa destinations such as the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, Calif., as well as upscale boutiques like Boca in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and Pierre Lafond Sportswear in Santa Barbara, Calif. Pieces include long floaty gauze skirts, cowl-neck silk tanks, lightweight denim jackets and full-length silk rayon dresses, all in a neutral color palette punched with graphite, creamy pink or mauve, depending on the season. Wholesale prices range from $30 to $90.

Frontline, Capezio’s hip-hop dance apparel brand, has signed choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson to endorse the line. Gibson was the on-air choreographer of MTV’s “Making the Band” for three seasons and is heading The Pulse, a multicity dance tour/seminar organized by Broadway Dance Center. Gibson will wear Frontline during The Pulse tour and will make public appearances for Capezio.