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Saucony Races to Rebrand

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NEW YORK It's a time of change at Saucony.

The Lexington, Mass.-based running specialty brand is stepping out with a new logo, print campaign and "manifesto" as it seeks growth under the umbrella of new parent Payless Shoe Source.

"Saucony was inconsistent in its story and approach to marketing, with multiple identities, brand images and logos that ran across our product categories and didn't make a whole lot of sense to the consumers," company president Richie Woodworth told Brandweek.

"What we really needed to do from a positioning and visual identity standpoint was ... to tighten up what we were doing with the logo, and build a strong, visual platform ... [with] advertising that would tie together into one common thread."

Teaming with design firm Desgrippes Gobe, New York, the company has created a new logo that fuses its classic graphic with a lowercased brand name that Woodworth said was geared to look "more inviting and friendly." While keeping its "Loyal to the sport" slogan, the collaboration also produced a new brand "manifesto" emblazoned on shoeboxes and on select product hangtags: "A good day is when we get to run. A great day is when we inspire someone else to run."

The brand is also ramping up its in-store experience at running specialty shops, with a stadium-inspired display program that features aluminum bleachers, branded shelving units, fitting stools and welcome mats. Moving forward, the brand hopes to bring similar in-store programs to larger retailers, including Dick's Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority.

Additionally, the company will relaunch its Web site in September in order to build a community experience for runners, and providing updated product information to both consumers and retailers.

On the advertising front, Saucony also has a new, more product-focused print campaign, with executions such as "No Cheerleaders Required," which promotes one of its premium cross-country shoes.

The moves come in the midst of a nearly $1 billion acquisition of parent Stride Rite by Payless that began in late May. The acquisition could ultimately provide more marketing money for Saucony.

While Woodworth declined to comment on ad budgets, which were still being negotiated this week, he did say that the new budget would be substantially increased. In 2006, Saucony's total ad spend was $1.5 million, per Nielsen-Monitor Plus. During the same period, Payless spent roughly $85 million on marketing.

"We hope that we can leverage the streak that Payless has right now, which [represents] a huge amount of media," said Woodworth, adding that the brand is currently searching for an ad agency to expand into outdoor and online marketing venues. "That can only benefit us," he added.