Heater Looks West Will Open Second Office to Aid Reebok

By Sarah Jones

BOSTON–How is Heater Advertising, the four-year-old creative shop, handling the challenge of being the lead creative agency for Reebok International? It’s looking West.

Expect the formation of a West Coast office sometime soon, said agency principal Bill Heater last week. The new entity, to be based in San Francisco, will most likely be called Heater West.

‘There’s so much creative energy out there and so many virtual corporations,’ Heater explained. ‘The East has a kind of urban grittiness that’s good for basketball–it lends a certain street legitimacy. The West is where the trends start. It has more of a fashion/style sensibility.’

Last week, while Steve Giuggio, director of account services at Heater Advertising, was in San Francisco scouting possible office sites and employees, a new top marketing executive was introduced at Reebok.

John Guze, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the Stoughton, Mass., company, will develop global marketing strategies for footwear, apparel and equipment. These areas had been overseen for the past 18 months by chief executive officer Paul Fireman, according to Dave Fogelson, director of public relations at Reebok.

‘Paul really got everybody energized, and he wanted to apply those same energies to the marketing function,’ Fogelson said of Guze’s appointment. ‘He was looking for an individual with experience in footwear and apparel (to lead) the marketing group.’

Guze has a long history in footwear, including a 10-year stint at Dayton-Hudson Corp. in Minneapolis, where he was divisional vice president of family footwear, and 10 years with Macy’s in New York. Most recently, he worked for Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Chicago as vice president, merchandise strategy and business development. His responsibilities included international sourcing for the Sears Merchandise Group.

The top marketing post at Reebok had been vacant since senior vice president of strategic marketing David Ropes left in March 1996 after his position was eliminated.

It’s too early to tell how a new marketing chief will affect Reebok’s overall strategy, cautioned Tucker Anthony analyst Steven Richter.

He added that ‘Reebok has had some early and ongoing success with its DMX line.’

It’s also unclear how Guze’s arrival will affect Heater Advertising’s role. ‘The way those things are being run will continue for the foreseeable future,’ Fogelson said. Whether Reebok will continue to rely solely on Heater Advertising, bring aboard additional creative resources or look for a full-service agency remains to be seen.

Last month the 20-person Boston shop was named Reebok’s lead creative agency after Chicago-based agency Leo Burnett resigned the footwear maker’s estimated $100 million account. Since then, there have been no decisions on which agency will handle media buying, and Fogelson said media resources were being evaluated.

And for now, according to Heater, the shop is putting the finishing touches on a print presentation, and several broadcast spots are in development for 1998. The appointment of Guze was being taken in stride.

‘(Reebok) may use other creative resources, but we’re the lead agency and will be unless we screw up,’ Heater admitted with a laugh. ‘If they want to keep our feet in the fire, that’s the way to do it. There’s always the threat of someone lurking in the corridor.’

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