Gyro Gives JanSport Its Cool Back

NEW YORK Ubiquitous isn’t always a good thing. In an effort to reinvent mainstream backpack brand JanSport as hipster-friendly, the manufacturer is partnering with ad agency Gyro to create and auction a line of one-of-a-kind Super Break backpacks.

The Philadelphia shop conceived the project with JanSport following a failed AOR courtship. Instead, the Appleton, Wis., client signed Gyro as a guerilla marketing specialist, said shop president Steven Grasse.

“They were looking for ways to rev up the brand and make it cool again,” said Grasse. While JanSport backpacks are sold in a wide variety of sporting goods shops, bookstores and other retail outlets, the brand “really doesn’t have any cachet, doesn’t carry an weight” with trendsetters, he said.

Backpacks designed by 30 artists will be auctioned off on eBay beginning July 1. The auction will run until Aug. 31, or until the bags are sold. All proceeds will benefit Vox Populi, a nonprofit artists’ collective located in Philadelphia.

In conjunction with the auction, JanSport will sponsor a national backpack design competition. Information kits will be sent to 50 top art schools nationwide, according to a statement from the agency. In addition to having his or her creation showcased online and receiving a cash prize of $1,000, JanSport will produce a limited run of the winning designer’s bag in 2005.

Gyro is putting together several projects targeting other marketing niches for JanSport, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.