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LEAP OF FAITH: Lacoste’s brand image is about to take a big leap.

At a party held during Paris men’s fashion week on Friday, the maker of crocodile-logo polo shirts unveiled a new advertising campaign that includes its first film for television and cinema.

Developed by French agency BETC, the campaign bears the tagline: “Life is a Beautiful Sport.” It is part of a company overhaul triggered by its acquisition in November 2012 by Swiss retail group Maus Frères SA, whose subsidiary Devanlay has held the global apparel license for Lacoste since 1999.

“It’s life, it’s movement, it’s joy, it’s optimism, it’s sport, it’s fair play,” said José Luis Duran, chief executive officer of Lacoste Holding. “We wanted this brand promise to sum up succinctly all of the logic and history, as well as the innovation and future of the brand.”

Directed by Seb Edwards, who has created award-winning work for clients like Vodafone, Adidas and Nike, the film stars rising French actor Paul Hamy, who is shown taking a running jump into the void.

It will premiere on French television on Feb. 7 to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where French athletes will be wearing outfits designed by Lacoste. Two versions of the film, lasting 30 seconds and 60 seconds, will be broadcast globally from March 2014 onward.

A print and billboard campaign, shot by Jacob Sutton, features models Kati Nescher and Roch Barbot towering over urban landscapes. It will break in the March issues of major magazines worldwide.
“We have made a radically different choice by placing the campaign and the brand image in an urban environment,” said Duran. “We want our wardrobe to be worn every day and not just on the beach at the weekend.”

Lacoste plans to increase its global marketing budget, which also includes sponsorship and visual merchandising, by 5 percent to 10 percent in 2014. Print and billboard advertising will account for around 40 percent of its media budget, with digital and film allocated around 30 percent each, Duran said.

Total sales at Lacoste were up around 5 percent in 2013 from 1.8 billion euros, or $2.3 billion at average exchange, the previous year. Duran predicted similar growth for 2014, noting that Lacoste will not open many new stores, but focus instead on upgrading existing units and closing underperforming locations.

“This campaign implies an obligation for each of our country managers to decide whether their stores, corners and products are in line with the new brand promise, the new brand positioning,” he said.