Y&R Adds Pony

LOS ANGELES Pony apparel has named WPP Group’s Y&R Brands to handle the relaunch of its recently moribund but once thriving shoe brand and clothing line.

The win, which includes WPP sibling Wunderman, followed a review, according to the client.

Rick Eiserman, managing director of the Irvine, Calif.-based agency, said the relaunch would employ mostly nontraditional marketing techniques. The budget was undisclosed. The company spent less than $500,000 last year in domestic measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“Pony is a tremendous brand with tremendous potential,” said Eiserman. “We’re looking forward to partnering with [president and CEO] Kevin Wulff and the talented ‘dream team’ he has assembled. We look forward to helping Pony reclaim its leadership position in the footwear category.”

Wulff said in a statement that “Y&R showed a deep understanding of the youth market and how to reach them in innovative ways online. After looking at a dozen agencies, we were even more convinced that Y&R had all of the right resources to jumpstart the Pony marketing program.” The other contenders were not disclosed.

The brand, which peaked in popularity during the 1980s, was handled in the past by agencies such as Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

The client recently installed new management, including Wulff, ex-president of Nike Americas, as its new leader; former Nike marketer Benjamin Woo as director of marketing; and Kyle Pulli, previously designer of pro models at Adidas, as head of design.

Eiserman views the Pony win as a sign of the “significant changes” in the agency culture in the two years since he arrived from New York. “We’re adding superior creative talent and bolstering our digital offering” he said. “This is just one more confirmation that we’re getting the talent and offering right.”

Eiserman said the first work, aimed at the 18-34 demographic, is expected to break in the fall and lean heavily on digital, event and guerrilla marketing, as well as print executions.