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Timberland's 'Heroes' Have Extra Dimension

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Timberland is putting its best foot forward in a global campaign showcasing the Earthkeepers collection of eco-friendly apparel.

The effort, dubbed "Nature needs heroes," includes TV, print and retail ads, as well as social media and a microsite that uses 3-D technology to help consumers become better acquainted with Earthkeepers. The site allows users to examine a frozen moment at a 360-degree angle.

Retail ads, too, utilize 3-D technology. Select display windows in the U.S. have started featuring special graphics that consumers can bring to life using 3-D glasses handed out in stores. Point-of-purchase displays show an X-ray image of the Earthkeepers 2.0 boot, touting the company's use of recycled materials.

In the past, Timberland focused on traditional elements like TV and print, said Jim Davey, vp of global marketing. "This is the first time we've reflected new media realities with additional elements," he said.

Leagas Delaney is the agency behind the print and TV ads; Holst created the 3-D window displays and microsite.

Furthermore, Timberland aims to drive its eco-friendly message home through TV and print ads, which focus on a "lost bottle." The humorous ads depict a man chasing a runaway water bottle so that he can recycle it. TV spots will air in the U.S., Europe and Asia during live sports, prime-time and late-night programs. Consumers who wish to create their own heroic moments can do so using Timberland's Earthkeepers Facebook app, called Virtual Forest, which debuts later this month.

"It's the most environmentally innovative collection of products we've ever launched," said Davey. "Great product that happens to be sustainable makes for a great story." (Timberland has had a good year so far, with sales growing in the high teens, said Matt Powell, an analyst at SportsOneSource.)

This is not the first time that Timberland has boasted its green initiatives. Last October, the footwear and apparel brand tapped singer Wyclef Jean as its "Earthkeeper hero." The two partnered on a U.S. campaign to promote environmental and humanitarian efforts in Haiti.

Several months later, the company began running a series of outdoor, environment-themed events in 10 U.S. cities as part of its 2009 sponsorship of the Green Apple Festival, an annual music and Earth Day awareness event. The brand launched a contest in conjunction with the event to promote the Earthkeepers line.

Timberland spent $6 million on general measured media in 2009, and $10,000 through June of this year, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co. The company spent $4.6 million advertising Earthkeepers in 2008, $3.2 million in 2009, and $15,000 through June of this year.