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Mullen Breaks In Dexter Shoe

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Mullen is preparing to break its latest campaign for Dexter Shoe, continuing the "Comfort in every box" theme the agency introduced last year.

The Wenham, Mass., shop has fashioned three print ads using that tag and the decorated shoebox motif from last year's efforts. The new campaign, however, aims to move the Dexter brand into a more fashionable arena while retaining the message of comfort and accessibility.

One ad shows the Stanford, a women's loafer in a room filled with candles used to "convey a more ethereal image of comfort," said Mullen art director Michael Ancevic.

Other ads feature the Brookings and Lorraine models, both more outdoor styles, set in a background with manicured shrubbery and a couple snuggling on a lounge chair.

The use of people and candles are intended to humanize the campaign and underscore its comfort message.

"Once we get down the path of comfort, we can take more liberties in defining what people find comfortable," said Stephen Mietelski the Mullen's copywriter on the account.

"It's not just about comfort; it's comforting," said Steven Lunder, vice president of marketing at Dexter.

The ads break next month in publications such as Sports Illustrated, GQ, People, InStyle and Martha Stewart Living. Media buying and public relations are also handled by Mullen.

Dexter spent about $8 million on advertising in 2000 and $2.5 million through the first five months of this year, according to CMR.

Previous ads for the West Newton, Mass., company showed the shoeboxes decorated with a hammock, a couch, an easy chair, a bed and a warm, sudsy bath. Before developing that theme, Mullen created ads using the tag, "Built for the way you really live."

Ancevic and Mietelski plan to continue the "Comfort in every box" theme in future print ads; posters in mall kiosks are also a possibility.

Mullen picked up the Dexter business in 1998; previously, the client had worked with Boston's Pagano Schenck & Kay, which earlier this year was absorbed into the operations of its New York parent agency, Earle Palmer Brown.