BS&S Adds SmartWool Account

Edging out several other Northern California shops, Butler, Shine & Stern has picked up the $5 million SmartWool Apparel Co. account.

The company, based in Steamboat Springs, Colo., began a review over the summer that included several Bay Area agencies as well as smaller regional shops. BS&S was selected after the client narrowed the review to five finalists.

SmartWool manufactures socks and outdoor clothing made from breathable wool. A campaign breaking later this fall will target athletes and outdoorsmen, agency executives said.

“They are growing like crazy because they are a company with a good grassroots following,” said agency partner and creative director Mike Shine, who pitched the account. “They are in the fun phase of a company’s growth where they have a lot of momentum.”

Shine said SmartWool is especially interested in marketing a new wool fabric that the company claims is comparable to synthetic fibers used in polar fleeces and similar garments.

“Runners [who tested the product] say that it’s even more comfortable than any other sock, and when people find out it’s wool, they will convert to SmartWool,” Shine said.

The campaign will start with print ads primarily in outdoors-oriented titles and could expand to TV, said creative director John Butler.

Executives at Smartwool said they were attracted by the Sausa lito, Calif., agency’s work for sports-related companies such as Specialized Bikes and by its in-house design firm, Pena Brands.

“Butler, Shine & Stern demonstrated an incisive understanding of our consumer and the values of our company and its products,” said David Visnack, the client’s director of marketing. “With their excellent creative reputation and outstanding design skills, we believe we can work together to launch into a new level of customer demand.”

BS&S will also handle interactive work, package design, consumer research and in-store marketing, according to agency executives.

Shine will serve as creative director, while Butler will likely work as the art director.

SmartWool’s last agency was Big Bang Idea Engineering in Seattle. Big Bang launched a print campaign last year that brought the company’s “wooly man” logo to life. It was not clear if Big Bang was in this summer’s review.

BS&S has also worked with Weider Nutrition, Noah’s Bagels, Midway videogames and numerous dot-com clients.