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Reebok's Martinez Steps Down

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After 21 years with Reebok, Angel Martinez in June is stepping down as chief marketing officer.

Martinez, 45, will remain with the Canton, Mass. sneaker maker through June and serve as a consultant for the remainder of the year. Reebok cited, as reason for the move, Martinez's desire to return to California for family reasons.

The company has launched a "worlwide" search for his successor, and will evaluate candidates both inside and outside the company, according to Reebok spokeswoman Denise Kaigler. "This will be a very thorough search ... we'll take as long as we need to find the right person," she said. John Wardley, vice president of brand communications, has in recent years been a key player in guiding the company's advertising efforts and sources say he may emerge as a candidate to replace Martinez.

Neither Martinez nor Wardley were immediately available for comment.

Martinez's impending departure will have no impact on Reebok's agency relationships "in the forseeable future," Kaigler added. Berlin Cameron & Partners of New York is Reebok's lead agency. MediaCom, New York, handles buying chores. The global budget for 2001 exceeds $100 million -- a 50% increase from 1999.

In January Reebok launched a campaign introducing the tag "Defy convention." The effort features often dizzying visual effects and editing techniques and includes endorsements from athletes such as Venus Williams and Allen Iverson.

Martinez joined Reebok in 1979 one year after company chairman and CEO Paul Fireman acquired the rights to distribute the brand in the U.S. In 1992 Martinez was named president of Reebok's fitness division and from 1994-1998 served as president and CEO of its Rockport Co. subsidiary. He is also credited with creating the Reebok Human Rights Program in 1988.