Toth Helps Keds Spring Ahead

BOSTON Stride Rite Corp.’s Keds is unveiling a major spring initiative from Toth Brand Imaging that introduces the positioning “My Keds.”

The new campaign from the Concord, Mass.-based indie agency has been appearing in the February issues of Lucky and Southern Living. The main thrust is set to follow in March issues of Glamour, InStyle, Oprah and Redbook, among others. The work will run through May.

The goal, according to Keds vp, marketing Terri Rawson, is to portray Keds footwear in a colorful way that “emphasizes the fun and joy in life.”

Ads showcase Keds’ foray into several new footwear styles, such as slides, mules and thongs. Executions feature large product photographs, smiling faces and minimal copy. Peggy Sirota shot lifestyle images for the ads in Malibu; John Lawler photographed the products in a studio setting.

“My Keds” replaces last year’s tagline, “American style,” which had in turn supplanted “Keds. Every. Wear.”

The brand spent about $2 million on ads last year, but 2003 spending will be in the $6 million range.

Stride Rite has long sought to reinvigorate its Keds brand. Keds sales in the fourth quarter of 2002 increased 6 percent compared to the same period in 2001, though full-year 2002 sales declined 6 percent compared with the previous year. Stride Rite did not break out specific brand sales numbers. Overall, company sales for 2002 were $532 million, up just 1 percent compared with 2001. Net income for the company in 2002 was $24 million, a 27 percent improvement on the $19 million profit Stride Rite reported for the previous fiscal year.