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Athlete's Foot Goes For Snugger Fit

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Retailer Thinks Smaller, Moves Global Account to Crumbley & Alba
ATLANTA--Preparing to market more heavily to females, The Athlete's Foot shifted its $7-8 million international account from lead agency Fitzgerald & Co. here to the much smaller Crumbley & Alba.
Larry Allen, vice president of marketing for the Kennesaw, Ga.-based retailer, began contacting local agencies through an undisclosed consultant shortly after joining The Athlete's Foot in March.
About four years ago, McCann-Erickson here won the account from Fitzgerald & Co. The two have since merged, and the new entity was not invited to make a presentation. Said Allen: "We needed to . . . become aligned with a smaller agency."
Allen would not disclose the other finalists, though sources said C&A here vied against Tausche Henderson Drake, Fahlgren and W.T. Quinn.
C&A's pitch focused on shifting marketing dollars from the traditional athletic shoe target of 12-24-year-old males and more toward 25-44-year-old adults, primarily female, said agency principal Barbara Alba.
That plan was in line with the client's intentions, Allen said. The Athlete's Foot had abandoned its appeal to the active adult segment, instead looking to both ends of the age spectrum: older walkers and teen boys. "We were so fragmented, we really weren't reaching anybody," said Allen.
Direct mail will be the cornerstone of The Athlete's Foot's recommitment to active adults, said Allen, along with print, radio, promotions and public relations. The company also hopes to develop strategic partnerships with advertisers like Coca-Cola and Blockbuster.
The current tagline, "Nobody knows the athlete's foot like The Athlete's Foot," will continue being used.
The account win hikes C&A's billings by 75 percent. "We have all the senior-level talent in place," Alba said. "We are looking at several staff additions to support the team."
Rated the ninth-largest seller of sporting goods in the U.S. by Sportstyle magazine, The Athlete's Foot has 750 stores throughout this country and in 43 other nations.