SBD/January 16, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Reebok Switches Ad Duties From McGarryBowen Back To DDB Worldwide

Reebok is touting the ATV 19+ as the first-ever all-terrain athletic shoe
A year after the shoe/apparel company “touted a return of its ad duties to McGarryBowen," Reebok Global Brand Marketing Head Yan Martin said that “effective next year, he will return ad duties to DDB Worldwide," according to Rupal Parekh of AD AGE. The shift is “not taking place sooner partly because McGarryBowen has just completed a campaign for the brand that's expected to begin running in about one month.” McGarryBowen as of spring ’14 “will be replaced and the work will be led by DDB, New York and will include digital, social and broadcast.” Martin said the switch back is “because he predicts that DDB will better execute creative work in step with marketing initiatives and product launches slated for 2014.” Some industry execs said that the agency shift is “partly driven by a desire for a consolidation under Adidas, which works largely with Omnicom agency brands, such as 180 and TBWA.” But Martin insisted that he is “free to make his own decisions.” During the time McGarryBowen worked with Reebok, the brand “ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing claims around its toning shoe.” But that “doesn't seem to have driven Reebok away from the product entirely, and the company has suggested it might continue to pursue the market with a different ad approach” (, 1/15). AD WEEK’s Andrew McMains noted the N.Y. office of DDB will lead efforts on the account after the lead office the last go-round "was Berlin, where Amir Kassaei, then executive creative director for Germany, was based.” Kassaei now is “worldwide chief creative officer and based in New York.” He said he sees the assignment as an "opportunity to redefine the fitness category." Not affected by the shift were Reebok's “media planning and buying, which remain at Aegis Group's Carat” (, 1/15).

OFF-ROADING: FAST COMPANY’s Chuck Salter writes Reebok “hopes its polarizing all-terrain ATV 19+ will make up for recent stumbles.” The shoe, which Reebok bills as the “first all-terrain athletic shoe, evokes a wide-wheeled off-road vehicle -- but also a daredevil, an astronaut, even a clown.” Company execs are “not only prepared for extreme reactions when the shoe launches in February; they’re counting on them.” Launching a polarizing product is Reebok’s “answer to an increasingly crowded marketplace,” as the strategy “worked three years ago with ZigTech.” Reebok Head of Sport Merchandising & Marketing Paul Froio said of criticism toward the product, “Yes, it’s unnerving. However, we succeed when we do things radically different.” Salter writes Reebok “could certainly use a hit.” The company at one point in the ‘80s was the “top U.S. athletic shoemaker; it now ranks fifth, with 4% of the market” (FAST COMPANY, 2/ ’13 issue).
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