Bauer inline goes outdoor

Confusing municipal bylaws have left inline skaters in many Canadian communities unsure whether their sport is legal or outlawed on streets and sidewalks.While some industry observers are concerned the threat of heavy fines will put a brake on inline sales, Canstar...

Confusing municipal bylaws have left inline skaters in many Canadian communities unsure whether their sport is legal or outlawed on streets and sidewalks.

While some industry observers are concerned the threat of heavy fines will put a brake on inline sales, Canstar Sports Group is betting it won’t.

Mississauga, Ont.-based Canstar is readying a new outdoor image campaign for its Bauer brand inline skates to run in Toronto,Vancouver and Montreal.

Rob Morash, marketing services manager at Canstar, says the idea behind the campaign is to enhance the image of Bauer skates versus about a dozen competing brands, including rollerblade, considered the gold standard in inline skate category.

Morash calls the 12-week campaign – it officially debuts April 17 – the ‘most significant’ advertising Canstar has ever done for inline skates.

He says Canstar is spending $500,000 on the campaign, a considerable expenditure for this category.

Morash says Canstar sees extensive growth for inline skates for the next couple of years.

He says growth in the category was ‘huge’ last year, and Canstar could not keep up with the demand for skates.

He says timing the campaign to run through the spring and summer matches the period when most consumers buy inline skates, noting 80% of all sales will be made over the next three months.

Also, Morash says, outdoor is a ‘logical medium’ for a product such as inline skates.

He says, in the longer term, Canstar will use different versions of the campaign to expand into other markets across the country.

Canstar’s agency is Vickers & Benson Advertising in Toronto.

The creative for the inline campaign was adapted from material produced by Canstar’s u.s. shop, Leonard Monohan, in Providence, r.i.

Sharon McCarry, marketing manager at Benetton Sportsystem in Montreal, which owns half of rollerblade, expressed some surprise Canstar intends to spend $500,000.

McCarry believes that means the company will not be doing any event marketing this summer.

Moreover, she believes the result of the Canstar inline campaign will be to help inline skating, rather than the Bauer brand.

Morash says Bauer inline skates are No. 1 in the Canadian market.

McCarry agrees, but notes rollerblade is only a few percentage points behind, although she will not disclose precise figures.

She says Bauer and rollerblade own 75% of the Canadian inline market, with other brands sharing the rest.

Inline skate sales this year are expected to reach $100 million.

McCarry says inline skate household penetration in Canada is about 9% to 13%, compared with bicycle household penetration at 51%.

She says the industry seeks a better than 30% household penetration for inline skates.

Ron Bremner, senior vice-president, account services, at v&b, says the outdoor medium Bauer is using is primarily exterior transit.

Bremner says the intended message for consumers is Bauer means inline skates.

And Morash says Bauer is a serious skate for the consumer who wants quality.

As well as the outdoor campaign, Canstar is also part of a national (except Quebec) cross-promotion contest with the Mr. Sub sandwich shop chain.

That, too, breaks April 17.

Susan Lavelle, Mr. Sub’s advertising manager, says the contest’s 30-second tv spot runs for four weeks on tsn. First prize is a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

Lavelle says there are seven other prize packages of Bauer inline skates, helmets and other protective equipment.

Featured in the tv spot is Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Ken Baumgartner.

Mr. Sub’s agency is Visual Communications, in Toronto.

To win the Mr. Sub contest, consumers have to call a toll-free number to register.

Phone prompts ask callers for their names and addresses and the six-digit number found on the side of the bag the sandwich came in.

Mr. Sub has printed more than two million bags for the contest. The winning numbers will be drawn May 14.

Although inline skates will occupy Canstar’s attention for much of the spring and summer, Morash says, come August or September, the company will gear up for a campaign for Bauer brand ice skates and composite hockey sticks and Cooper brand hockey equipment.

The first part of the advertising will be built around Vancouver Canucks’ pouty but undeniably talented Russian-born forward Pavel Bure.

Using a ‘Pavelocity’ theme, the Bauer composite stick advertising on tv and in print will feature Bure, linking his speed and fan appeal to the slick new technology of the Bauer stick.

The second part of the campaign will feature the Philadelphia Flyers’ behemoth Eric Lindros – dubbed ‘The Presence’ – and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour.

All three men will endorse the Bauer and Cooper brands using the line, ‘The names the names wear.’

Morash says the advertising with Belfour and Lindros is intended ‘to nudge the image of the brand up higher’ among the crucial 12-to-17-year-old player market.

Belfour and Lindros have already appeared in advertising endorsing Bauer ice skates and Cooper hockey equipment.