Keds Strides Into $10 Mil. Review

Footwear Co. Splits With FCB, Plans to Retain “Feel Good” Tagline
BOSTON-Atlanta’s WestWayne is one of the agencies in the review for the $10 million ad account of Stride Rite Corp.’s Keds division. Other shops contacted by Keds are: DeVito/Verdi and Weiss Stagliano Partners, both in New York; and Eisner & Associates and Trahan, Burden & Charles, both in Baltimore, sources said.
Several shops are not expected to participate, citing potential conflicts with existing clients. Arnold Communications in Boston and Mullen in Wenham, Mass., received pitch materials, but sources say their respective relationships with Converse, Dexter Shoe and Reebok will prevent them from pursuing any Keds business. The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., also declined to compete, due to its work for Timberland, sources said.
The list, which initially began with 10 shops, will soon be cut to about four finalists, sources said.
Although Keds officials said a decision could be several months away, sources believe a choice may come in the next few weeks.
The Lexington, Mass.-based company split two weeks ago from Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco, its agency of record for nearly three years. Sources said two factors contributed to the firing: FCB’s decision to lay off director of business development Dave Byers, who ran the account, and the shop’s perceived unwillingness to put more female staffers on the business, a priority for both Obana and Keds president Joanna Jacobson [Adweek, April 19].
Obana recently said she is looking for a smaller shop closer to home. Keds’ current tagline, “Feel good,” was crafted 10 years ago by defunct Providence, R.I., shop Leonard/Monahan. It will likely be retained, Obana said.
Mary Obana, Keds vice president of marketing and new business development, could not be reached at press time. The company was swamped last week by calls and packages from dozens of agencies looking to get into the pitch, sources said.
Keds, with sales of $200 million, is No. 6 in the U.S. athletic footwear market. ƒ