JanSport to Ride Bare Backs: Elgin DDB Repositions Backpacks on a Cast of Celebrity Skin

By Becky Ebenkamp

LOS ANGELES–EVF Corp.’s JanSport will shift creative gears later this month to paint itself a hip new image in a $5 million back-to-school ad campaign featuring the bare backs of young celebrity achievers.

Two-page spreads, created by agency Elgin DDB in Seattle, will run in 31 magazines starting in July aimed at students and young adults, including Details, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and Allure. In addition, an eight-page insert will run in Spin, Seventeen and Vibe. The ads are a departure from JanSport’s previous efforts, which have focused on a rugged, outdoorsy theme.

‘Creatively speaking, we’ve wanted to be free of the outdoors image for a while,’ said creative director Laurie Fritts. ‘There’s a limit to what you can do with mountains. Plus, these backpacks are used by high school and college students and even younger kids to carry books and athletic gear.’

JanSport chose celebrities for their relevance to its core target, said Michael Cisler, the company’s vice president of marketing. The ads feature the celebrity on the left page with the word ‘Back’ and the product and the word ‘Pack’ on the right, with copy that states a commonality between model and product. ‘Both work well in water’ avers one ad featuring Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson paired with ‘Sole Long,’ which has a water-resistant bottom. Jennifer Love Hewitt, who plays a student on Fox’s Party of Five, is posed with ‘Daily Transit,’ a multi-pocket model geared for student life. Boyd Tinsley, violinist for the Dave Matthews Band, is linked with ‘Spin Doctor,’ a model equipped with a CD pocket.

If successful, the bare back ad concept will be an ongoing theme with revolving list of celebrities, similar to the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board’s ‘Milk mustache’ campaign. The campaign also includes outdoor, radio ads and retail components.

The repositioning aims to distinguish JanSport from other top brands such as Eddie Bauer and Eastpak as well as ubiquitous knockoff bargain backpacks……–with Angela Dawson

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