CONVERSE GIVES OUTDOOR ADS A BLANK SLATE

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Unlike most companies, Converse would like nothing better than to see women writing graffiti all over its new outdoor advertising. That’s what it’s there for.
The campaign highlights the brand’s Chuck Taylor canvas high-top sneakers, but it also coincides with the launch of its women’s activewear.
Designed to be decorated or doodled on, the new ads are primarily blank except for a small image of a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars and the tag line, “Just Rubber and a Blank Canvas.”
The campaign is aimed at Converse’s targeted customers, “women and men between the ages of 21 and 35; urbanites who understand art, have an eclectic taste and know what’s happening from a fashion standpoint,” said Hal Worsham, director of worldwide licensing and public relations for Converse.
Through a licensing deal with Fashion Options, Converse is shipping its new women’s activewear to sporting goods stores and specialty and department stores this week. Zip-front vests, pants, shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts and stretch tanks are among the offerings. Converse has not produced women’s activewear since its license with Active Apparel Group expired in 1998.
“It’s a simple line that crosses over into streetwear,” Worsham said. “But I doubt she’d want to go out on a date in these garments. It’s an easy line.”
The new Chuck Taylor print campaign features images of women and men wearing Converse apparel and Chuck Taylor sneakers.
“If you look at the campaign, we wanted to make it equally appealing to women and men. There are many unisex images,” Worsham said. “Women are so incredibly important to this market.”
Each month for the next three months, Converse will place 4,000 posters in various neighborhoods in a combination of wild postings and traditional locations in New York and Los Angeles. The posters began to appear Monday and will be replaced at least on a weekly basis.
The most interesting images will be posted on Chucktaylor.com, which is scheduled to go live Tuesday. The site, which is being set up to augment the campaign, will be revised on a weekly basis.
Developed by Pyro Brand Development, a Dallas advertising agency, the campaign is a “six-digit investment” for Converse, industry sources said.
In the Teens and the Twenties, Taylor, a pioneer in the early days of organized basketball, played for the Firestone League and subsidized his athletic career by working as a salesman for Converse.
He toured the country promoting the sport and the Converse All-Stars, and Converse added Taylor’s name to the footwear’s ankle patch in 1923.
Women account for about 40 percent of all purchases of Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars. For the past three years, the company has sold about 10 million pairs of the sneakers, a Converse spokeswoman said.

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