Size Does Matter to Keds

Large Agencies Need Not Apply in $10 Mil. Review
BOSTON–Stride Rite Corp.’s Keds division has contacted 10 agencies on the East Coast in a search to replace Foote, Cone & Belding of San Francisco on its ad account.
The Lexington, Mass.-based footwear maker last week dismissed FCB after nearly three years, citing a desire for a smaller shop closer to home. “We want an agency where Keds can be a focus,” said Mary Obana, client vice president of marketing and new business development. “That’s where we suffered [with FCB], being a smaller account” at a large shop.
Sources said Keds sacked FCB because the agency laid off director of business development Dave Byers, who managed the Keds account. Keds was also displeased that FCB did not assign enough women staffers to the account. (Females are the primary buyers of the company’s shoes.)
“That is absolutely not true. Those were not the reasons we decided to make the change from FCB,” said Obana. She added that the incumbent will remain on board for a month or two to “finish some projects.”
With a budget of about $10 million, Keds executives are looking for a “full-service agency to take a fresh brand approach,” Obana said. According to the request for proposal, sent under the signature of client marketing manager Scott Moore, Keds is “not looking for an ad agency,” it is looking “for a marketing partner.”
At this stage, shops are being asked to send a “communications piece that explains why [the agency] would be a great match.” The rfp is due April 30, and the client will then cut the list to four shops. That quartet will get an assignment and final presentations are set for the week of July 5. A winner is expected to be named the next week.
If one shop immediately stands out, however, a winner could be named in short order, Obana said. She declined to identify shops that have been contacted. Stride Rite roster shop Toth Brand Imaging, Concord, Mass., will not pitch, an agency official said.–with Jane Irene Kelly and Judy Warner