Nov 06, 2009 at 08:42 PM
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K-Swiss to Rebrand as "the California Sports Company"

When looking for an apparel partner, K-Swiss may not be the first name you think of. For properties in California, that may be about to change.

K-Swiss, the apparel and shoe company founded by two Swiss brothers in Los Angeles over 40 years ago, has established a "new direction" for the brand that will include events and grassroots sponsorships in a number of sports that fit with the California lifestyle.

"Our new brand voice will communicate a playful, creative, and progressive California attitude towards sports and lifestyle," Chairman and President, Steven Nichols said in a call yesterday.

K-Swiss, perhaps best known in sponsorship terms for its deal with Anna Kournikova, has struggled recently with domestic revenues for the first six months of this year lower by more than 20%.

While tennis is K-Swiss' traditional sweet spot, marketing efforts have recently been extended to endurance sports like running and triathlons. Back in September, K-Swiss partnered with the Los Angeles Marathon as its official footwear and apparel sponsor.

"Running is another important pillar in K-Swiss being the California Sports Company," Nichols went on to say. "Serving as the hub of the L.A. Marathon will be our new K-Swiss running retail store that will soon open in Santa Monica."

Nichols went on to say that they will look to add more top athlete endorsers to the K-Swiss brand team, which currently includes 30 pro triathletes and top American tennis player Sam Querrey.

"We will also continue to expand our leadership in triathlons, a sport created in San Diego, California. This includes the execution of our Iron Man global footwear and apparel licensing agreement, and sponsorship of Iron Man events around the world."

K-Swiss sees great opportunity in running according to Nichols:

"The prize though is the true running market, and we just completed a multi-year deal with the L.A. Marathon. We're way behind the people that have been established there for years and years, but we think there will be a payoff in a couple of years and we also think that it fits very, very nicely into our California Sports Company marketing positioning."

Fillting with the California Sports Company theme, K-Swiss has also launched a skate shoe and signed an endorsement deal with skater, Greg Lutzka. The strategy in skate appears to be more grassroots.

"Greg Lutzka doesn't wear a t-shirt with the classic K-Swiss shield on it," Nichols said. "He wears a t-shirt that just says KS. And we want them to figure this out. We don't want to come in with a bulldozer, we'd like to kind of come in with a little canoe or something. Sneak in quietly and let them find us, so that's our skate effort."

"This brand positioning is the catalyst for us to create emotional connection with our consumers everywhere. Note that California has a spirit that is both different from other places as well as aspirational around the world. For us this is not about California stereotypes, instead our new brand voice will communicate a playful, creative, and progressive California attitude towards sports and lifestyle."