Keds Gets ‘Cool’ With Barton

NEW YORK As part of its ongoing strategy to appeal to hip, young women, Keds is aiming to build viral buzz through a series of videos that will hit the Web before the next leg of its “Be cool” campaign breaks in the spring.

The company spent $7 million on paid media January-August 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, a boost over the $4 million spent for all of 2004.

Creative shows actress Mischa Barton (The O.C.) wearing Keds in vintage-meets-modern situations. One print ad sees the actress posed atop the hood of a vintage BMW Mini Cooper. She also appears in an old-time photo booth taking pictures with her dog. Another ad takes place in a whimsical watermelon patch.

The fall campaign featured the actress on a Los Angeles rooftop holding handmade posters with various definitions of “cool.” In other shots, she is blowing bubbles or lounging in a swimsuit.

Keds is banking on Barton to get women ages 15-40 into its sneakers, which had been favored mostly by the 40-plus set.

“Younger consumers are hard to reach,” said Jennifer Weiderman, vp of marketing at Keds, explaining the online push. “Young women do read, but are also online a lot.” Weiderman said the campaign repositions Keds as an elegant combination of past and present, and “tells the story of our heritage with vintage and modern elements.”

Print will run in InStyle, Vogue, Jane, Lucky, Glamour, Nylon and Seventeen. Music sponsorships, retail events with Barton, direct mail and outdoor ads, including videos in New York’s Times Square and in Los Angeles, will support.

The 90-year-old brand is a division of Stride Rite in Lexington, Mass.