Re-Evaluating Reebok

New Ad Exec to Expand Lowe’s Role in Soccer
BOSTON–Reebok International is expected to award Lowe Howard-Spinks in London its soccer assignment following a pitch that included Heater Advertising in Boston, sources said.
John Wardley, Reebok’s newly appointed director of worldwide advertising, confirmed that the two roster shops competed earlier this year for the assignment. He refused to reveal the winner, however, saying it would be “premature.”
Wardley, who joined the Stoughton, Mass., footwear company earlier this month after 10 years in advertising at Coca-Cola in Atlanta, last week quoted a philosophy he ascribed to the soft drink maker: “No one has a monopoly on good ideas.”
After looking at Reebok’s advertising reel from the past six months, Wardley said his first goal is to determine the company’s immediate business needs. “It might be that we need to look at other resources. I only recently started a relationship with Heater and don’t want to send a signal that we’re not satisfied,” he said.
While different shops may end up contributing to the creation of Reebok’s new image, Wardley stressed the importance of conveying a single, consistent message.
“We’ve got lots of immediate needs. The most important need is the brand, and ensuring that the brand is relevant to our consumers. We’ve got a really strong product story to tell, and I don’t know that we’ve been doing that as well as we could.” Wardley said. “Obviously, Heater will be a part of that and will continue to be our lead agency.”
Part of the strategy to strengthen Reebok’s brand image will be highlighting its new technology, Wardley said. “The fact is we’ve got some excellent new technology. We need to communicate those technologies effectively. [The technology] is the key reason that more of the young, up-and-coming ball players have been willing [to endorse Reebok]. We’ve made up tremendous ground in the last five years. The starts and stops have been on the ad side,” he said.
Future ads will tout basketball shoes such as Reignman II and The Answer, the first sneaker to use the DMX technology. NBA stars Allen Iverson and Shawn Kemp will make an appearance in future ads, with Iverson appearing first in a Heater-created commercial on track to debut in November.
Earlier this year, Boston-based Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos was tapped for a grassroots print campaign to promote Reebok soccer balls produced in child-labor-free factories. The executions are running in soccer trade publications, said Reebok representative Dave Fogelson.
“Hill, Holliday created some provocative, powerful print ads,” Fogelson said. “Soccer is a very important program, but from the ad side, [Hill, Holliday’s assignment] was just these initial print ads.” Whether the shop would be assigned more duties is “up to John [Moore] and the soccer people,” he added.
During his tenure at Coke, Wardley worked with more than 25 shops, including Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis; The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.; and The Lowe Group, Cliff Freeman & Partners, Fallon McElligott Berlin and TBWA/Chiat Day, all in New York. Any and all of these, Wardley said, would be “great resources.”
Heater, named Reebok’s lead creative agency in May after Leo Burnett in Chicago abruptly resigned the estimated $95 million account, may face some stiff competition for the business. New York-based Grey Advertising was assigned media buying duties in August after a review.