The Heart and Sole of It

Martin Combines Timberland’s Beliefs and Boots
BOSTON–The Timberland Co.’s new print and outdoor advertising campaign, which positions the client as a footwear maker first and a do-gooder second, seeks to build a bridge linking “boots, brand and beliefs.”
Created by The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., the campaign strives in “direct and straightforward language” to make the client’s corporate philosophy toward volunteerism as fashionable and, perhaps, durable as the products it sells, said Timberland marketing vice president Ken Freitas.
An eight-page insert broke in yesterday’s New York Times Sunday Magazine and is scheduled to run in Vanity Fair and Fast Co. All three publications reach people, who Freitas called opinion makers. Media spending, while not officially disclosed, was estimated by sources at $10 million.
“There is a greatness waiting for you,” reads part of the copy, which then addresses cynics and skeptics who may not buy the positioning with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude: “While we may inspire disbelief or anger or even disgust, this is what we believe.” There is no tagline.
The ad refers readers to Timberland’s main phone number and to its Web site, which was developed by CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif. The site features product photography by Hans Gissinger and links to ServeNet, a program of Youth Service America that matches individuals with volunteer opportunities. Timberland is also a corporate underwriter of CityYear, an urban youth job corps operating in 10 U.S. cities.
Single- and double-page executions culled from the advertising insert will run in lifestyle and fashion magazines skewed to particular audiences.
The campaign is the first work of David “Jelly” Helm since he returned to Martin as a creative mentor and to nearby Virginia Commonwealth University Ad School as a teacher last year. Helm said then he had no intention of creating ads, but when the agency won the Timberland business, the client’s values lured him out of his self-imposed “retirement.”
“The idea when we won the business was that [Timberland] should not separate its products from its beliefs,” Helm said. “They felt a little embarrassed talking about what they believe in . . . but they shouldn’t be shy about talking about it.”
Helm said Timberland welcomes challenges to its beliefs and even to policies or practices consumers may find objectionable. “We’re looking for feedback. Timberland is not perfect and they know that. In a way they’re opening themselves up to criticism. They’re not flawless,” he said.
Separately, the Stratham, N.H.-based retailer has retained Cone Communications here as its public relations agency of record following a review that included incumbent Burson-Marsteller in New York.
–with Jim Osterma