SBJ/March 4 - 10, 2002/This Weeks Issue

And 1 rolls $10M into brand effort

And 1 is launching the first brand campaign in the company's relatively brief history this month — a $10 million effort that's easily the largest marketing push by the basketball sneaker and apparel marketer.

The sheer weight of the campaign is worth noting. Considering And 1 has about a 1 percent market share, a $10 million campaign is the equivalent of Nike running a campaign in excess of $400 million.

"Having a consistent message over a consistent period is vital," said And 1 marketing director Mark Woolsey. "One of our biggest issues is limited brand awareness, since we're up against Nike and Reebok."

In the campaign, lead And 1 endorser Kevin Garnett stars in a dreamlike ad from Fallon McElligot that will air on TNT NBA broadcasts this month. The spot tells many of the stories of Garnett's ascendancy from playground to the NBA; included are references to his arrest for loitering on a basketball court and the burning of Garnett's basketball jersey by his then-disapproving mother.

Filmed on an asphalt court in Minneapolis, all the action in the spot takes place in the rain — invoking the thundershowers a younger Garnett played through while developing his skills. At times, the court is packed with defenders, reminiscent of the imaginary players Garnett conjured up to sharpen his skills when practicing alone.

Accompanying the on-court action is hip-hop narrative by Styles, a founder of the group L.O.X. with rapper Jadakiss. One of Reebok's most recent ads has Allen Iverson sharing the stage with Jadakiss. So has the formula changed from player plus signature shoe equals success to player plus hip-hop artist?

"We're telling a real story about basketball obsession, which is central to our brand," Woolsey said. "Reebok has a rapper and an athlete hyping a shoe."

The Garnett spot is the first of four or five in the campaign and breaks as And 1 delivers its first Garnett signature shoe to retail — at $125, the most expensive shoe it has ever produced. It also comes as a plethora of competitors are impinging on And 1's street positioning, à la the Reebok spot, Pony's recent marketing initiative and even Nike's celebrated "Freestyle" spot last year.

"Being urban is the main thrust of the industry; marketing-wise, everyone wants to be there," said Bruce Blanke, a partner in 20 Athlete's Foot stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. "But Nike owns basketball and they've defended it pretty well."

Keeping with the "look bigger than you are" strategy, And 1 plans on increasing its stable of NBA endorsers from 27 to 70 players by next season, which would give it 20 percent of all the league's players.

The campaign will run on ESPN, BET and MTV and is supported by "street teams" handing out CD-ROMs and Garnett posters of the spots; a viral e-mail to 400,000 addresses and a dedicated section on the company's Web site.

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