2 N.Y. Shops Contacted by Keds

BOSTON-Two New York agencies are among those which have emerged in the review for the $10 million ad account of Stride Rite’s Keds unit.
DeVito/Verdi and Weiss Stagliano Partners have received pitch materials from the athletic shoe company, as have Eisner & Associates and Trahan, Burden & Charles, both Baltimore; and WestWayne, Atlanta, sources said.
Also contacted: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, Arnold Communications, Boston, The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and Mullen in Wenham, Mass. All four declined to pitch, citing conflicts.
The list-which began with 10 shops-will soon be cut to about four finalists, sources said. Although Keds officials said a decision could be in several months, sources believe a choice may come in the next few weeks. Keds vice president of marketing and new business development Mary Obana could not be reached by press time.
Dozens of agencies contacted the client last week, sources said.
The Lexington, Mass., sneaker marketer split two weeks ago with Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, its agency of more than two years. Sources said two factors contributed to the firing: FCB’s decision to lay off director of business development Dave Byers, who ran the account, and a perception at the client that the shop was unwilling to put more female staffers on the business, a priority for Obana and Keds president Joanna Jacobson.
Obana, however, said she is looking for a smaller shop closer to home. FCB and the client both declined to address the staffing issues.
Keds’ current tagline, “Feel good,” evolved from a positioning crafted 10 years ago by defunct Providence, R.I., shop Leonard/Monahan. It will likely be retained, Obana said.
Keds is ranked No. 6 in the U.S. athletic footwear market, with about $200 million in 1998 sales, per Sporting Goods Intelligence. -with Jim Osterman and Jane Irene Kelly