Creative Campaigns: You Must Remember This

Reebok champions classic fashion and imagination

“Whoever you are, the one thing you’d be willing to wear is something classic,” says John Hegarty, creative director of Bartle Bogle Hegarty U.S.
That sentiment guides the new “Classic” campaign, which was conceived by Hegarty and BBH U.S.
creative director Ty Montague. It is Reebok’s first foray into advertising for the line, a print and billboard execution featuring media buys in magazines such as In Style, Vogue and GQ. Reebok is expected to spend $11 million on the effort; ads will break in early February.
BBH won the account from Heater Advertising, Boston, in September 1998, when the U.S. branch of London-based BBH opened in New York. Sneaker ads only appeared in magazine inserts featuring funky people in urban settings.
In an effort to expand the Classic line, John Wardley, vp global advertising, Reebok, gave BBH a mandate: take the line out of the hipster culture to a larger audience.
“Classic is the heart of what Reebok is about,” says Cindy Gallop, BBH U.S. president.
The campaign is meant to mimic the qualities of the sneaker–simple, and durable–acting, in effect, as an an Absolut campaign for shoes.
Hegarty and Montague decided the best approach was to reduce the concept to its purest form. “Classic is the [trait] everyone would include in their wardrobe,” says Montague.
To further that image, the campaign puts the shoe in the same league as other famous garb: The Burberry raincoat. The Chanel suit. Levi’s 501s. “We are trying to give [the same] classic range and status to Reebok,” Hegarty explains.
Bert Stern, a legendary photographer who shot Marilyn Monroe’s “last sitting,” was chosen to capture Hegarty’s vision. A veteran of ad shoots, Stern started his career doing print work for Smirnoff, IBM and Revlon. He later moved into editorial, shooting Hollywood stars for Vogue, Life and Glamour.
Today, he’s a big fan of his current client. Stern not only shot Steve Dodd, an aborigine featured in the Classic photo, he also wears the Marathon shoe–the same shoe Dodd wears in the ad.
Reebok’s classic line sports several models. The little boy in Neo Classic is wearing Monarch, a leisure shoe. Regal is worn by a ballerina. The 125th Street ad features Duke Ellington, while Queen Latifah wears Natural Classic. Although two performers are used, Hegarty says it won’t turn into a celebrity campaign.
“This is the kind of campaign that actually improves the longer we run it,” says Montague proudly. “It literally has legs.”
Montague also points out that the campaign will allow BBH to target specific markets around the world, photographing people who might be considered a “classic” in Paris or a “classic” in India.
The creative team will not only be able to focus on specific geographical locations but also in select mailings. For example, the Natural Classic ad features a woman who is naked, save for her Reeboks. This ad will only appear in subscription issues, says Montague, not in newsstand copies.
“The target audience is potentially anybody,” says Hegarty. “This campaign uses an incredibly simple idea to encompass everyone.”
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty U.S., New York
Creative Director, Art Director: John Hegarty
Creative Director, Copywriter: Ty Montague
Photographer: Bert Ster