Lombardi Rides Seidel’s Strategy

Recognizing that some people may scale mountains while others prefer to watch TV, venerable Bay Area retailer Lombardi Sports is casting a wide net in its search for customers.

A new print and outdoor ad campaign from Seidel O’Neil and Partners, San Fran cisco, continues the slightly irreverent approach that is aimed at reaching super jocks and couch potatoes alike.

For example, one of the first ads for the summer push features a cyclist zipping downhill alongside a cable car that has a Lombardi Sports ad on the side and a bike rack on top. A number of cyclists in full gear are sitting idly on the trolley rather than riding their bikes.

The approach, designed to remind San Francisco residents of their commuting options, is reminiscent of Lombardi’s earlier ad this year featuring a cable car and snowboarders.

The success of the snowboarder campaign was the impetus for the bicycle execution, said agency co-founder D.J. O’Neil.

“We like to focus on strategic, funny and irreverent advertising,” said O’Neil, who described the 54-year-old single-store operation as “a real San Francisco heritage store.”

Seidel O’Neil has done more than 25 campaigns for Lombardi’s in its six years on the account.

The new work keeps the tagline: “You don’t have to be a good sport at Lombardi Sports.” The campaign targets the average joe rather than focusing exclusively on sports enthusiasts. “These ads are about how the average person can interact with sports in their lives,” O’Neil said.

Lombardi Sports owner Ken Lombardi said avid cyclists should find humor in the new ads, even though they are targeted towards the less active. The ads are going up in transit shelters and on painted wallscapes in San Francisco. They will run through the end of July.

Lombardi added that working with Seidel O’Neil has been a perfect fit. “The ads are fun and unique and they’ve a got a little San Francisco flavor,” he said.

As ad spending has slowed in the industry, Lombardi said, his store has been able to capitalize on the availability of more space and reasonable rates in the city.

Lombardi Sports spends about $500,000 annually on advertising. This campaign accounts for a small portion of that.

Seidel O’Neil claims annual bil lings of $15-20 million.