Keds Makes Fashion Statement

Toth’s Spring Campaign Takes Brand Beyond White Sneakers
BOSTON–Toth Brand Imaging’s first campaign for Keds aims to break the brand out of the white sneaker box.
Print ads making their debut in April fashion and lifestyle magazines reposition the Stride Rite Corp. line as fashion accessories. Toth, Concord, Mass., developed the creative, and PGR Media in Providence, R.I., handled buying chores.
Six spreads feature models dressed in casual wear selected by fashion guru Polly Allen Mellen. The ads were shot at outdoor locations, such as the beach, by photographer Regan Cameron.
A new tagline, “Keds every wear,” closes the executions.
Past advertising was more product-focused, and “the brand has suffered,” said Toth account director Bob Fouhy. “It was stuck in the land of the white sneakers.”
Toth pitched a fashion-oriented campaign to Keds in 1996, during the agency’s first tenure on the account. The company wasn’t ready for the idea, Fouhy said. Stride Rite later moved the Keds account to Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco, and later to Merkley Newman Harty in New York.
Merkley resigned the $10 million Keds account late last year before any ads were created. The client then re-assigned the Keds brand to Toth without a review.
Now, four years after that first pitch, the client is finally ready to make a fashion statement for Keds. “They feel a lot of ownership with the new direction. They understand the fashion component,” Fouhy said. Keds’ new vice president of marketing, Terri Rawson, described the effort as “beautiful, but believable. Toth has been doing an exceptional job.”
Toth is working on a similarly themed campaign for the fall, which will add TV into the mix. “Our challenge is to make Keds relevant year-round,” Rawson said.
Toth also works on Stride Rite’s Sperry-Topsider shoes and several other brands.
Total Stride Rite billings for Toth-PGR are estimated at $16-18 million.
Toth’s first campaign for Sperry breaks in April with the tagline, “Welcome to the weekend.” The print ads are family-oriented and blend image and product, Fouhy said. K