Cercone Brown 'Gets Wet' With Sperry Top-Sider

BOSTON Low-profile Cercone Brown & Co. has won the $2-3 million ad account of Stride Rite’s Sperry Top-Sider brand.

Paul Silverman, the former Mullen chief creative who began working with 10-person Cercone Brown on a project basis in October, will oversee development of the campaign.

A print-based consumer and trade push touting the client’s newly launched Figawi shoe is scheduled to break in May. The ads will introduce the tagline “Get wet” to convey the message that “if you’re in or around the water, for sailors or kayakers … this is the shoe for you,” said Len Cercone, agency partner and co-founder. An effort will be made to target young adults who participate in aquatic sports and related activities. Expanding the popularity of the 68-year-old brand beyond its traditional boat shoe image is paramount, Cercone said.

The new positioning from Manchester, Mass.-based Cercone Brown replaces the brand’s previous slogan, “When performance counts,” last used in ads from Toth Brand Imaging, Concord, Mass. Cercone Brown won the Top-Sider business following a review in which Toth did not participate.

“We were happy with Toth, but the brand is changing direction. We wanted a fresh start,” said John Hess, director of marketing for Sperry Top-Sider, who joined the company last year.

Toth coo Dick Emerson said his shop’s recent work for Top-Sider had been on a project basis and he called the split “amicable.”

The win is important for Cercone Brown because it gives the small shop a chance to work on all aspects of a campaign for a recognized national brand, Cercone said.

Cercone founded the agency with Erika Brown in March 2001; both had been employed by Wenham, Mass.-based Mullen, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos.

The shop has enlisted Media Strategy Group, Boston, helmed by another former Mullen staffer, Basil Dixon, to handle media chores for the Top-Sider account.

Silverman ran Mullen’s creative department from 1975-99, and he consulted with the shop through last year. A chance meeting several months ago with Brown led Silverman to collaborate with fledgling Cercone Brown, he said. “We all worked together before, so it’s easy to work together as things come up,” Silverman said. The association allows Silverman to keep his hand in the agency game, while also working on his own freelance marketing projects and fiction writing, he said.

The fact that Stride-Rite is a former Mullen client played no role in an agency of ex-Mullen staffers winning the Sperry Top-Sider business, Hess said. Rather, Cercone Brown was selected because “they understood the attitude [needed] to deliver what we are trying to communicate,” he said.