Pyro’s Footwork Sways Heelys

An agency that has promoted products like Doc Martens footwear and Converse sneakers to the youth market has parlayed its brand experience into landing the seven-figure advertising account of Heelys.

Pyro Brand De-velopment, a unitof The Richards Group in Dallas, won the business following a review of smaller local shops that included Beyond DDB and Zagorski & Williams.

Heelys, which hopes to surpass the urban popularity of the Razor collapsible scooter, are sneakers with built-in, retractable roller wheels. Heeling Sports Ltd., the Dallas-based maker of the “stealth skates,” declined to release exact sales figures, but said the company is on track to sell a half-million pairs by year’s end. The product was introduced last Christmas.

Pyro Brand Development’s creative team was led in its pitch effort by Terence Reynolds, who rejoins the group after launching Shift, Richards’ urban marketing unit. Pyro’s past brand experience in the youth footwear category gave it an edge in the review, according to client and agency executives.

“We haven’t necessarily pursued this strategy, but we’ve become a player in the youth marketing side. We do a good job of capturing the emotions of the younger market,” said Pyro principal John Beitter.

Pyro’s challenge, said Beitter, will be to move Heelys beyond the precarious position of being today’s toy du jour.

“We want to position them more in the area of fashion and mobility to include an older audience,” Beitter said, “because that’s going to be important for their success. We don’t want people growing out of these.”

Mike Staffaroni, Heelys’ vice president of marketing (and former global general manager of Roller-blade), said launch ads for Heelys have been extremely limited and handled in-house. He put the ad budget in the seven-figure range.

“Initially, it’s going to be grass-roots stuff … heavy on event marketing,” Staffaroni said. “When you show people how it works, you get a little bit of the wow factor. We have a product that really begs to be demonstrated.”

Television advertising, he said, will likely be launched next year.

“We really felt it was time to ratchet it up to the next level … and Pyro’s creative blew us away,” Staffaroni said.