Durham News

McKinney ad agency wins Crocs account

Ad agency McKinney has been tapped to handle global advertising for Crocs, the Colorado-based footwear company that is looking to regain momentum after a recent restructuring.

“It’s a great, fun category and a great, fun brand,” said George Nguyen, managing director in the agency’s New York office.

Financial details weren’t disclosed.

Durham-based McKinney, by far the Triangle’s largest ad agency, will focus on branding and marketing efforts in the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“We’re driving strategy and creative direction for every market that Crocs is focusing on around the world,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen will lead the Crocs account out of the 30-person New York office. But McKinney’s Durham office, which has 160 workers, also will work on the account.

It’s unclear whether McKinney will end up hiring additional employees to help handle the new business.

Crocs’ “Find Your Fun” advertising theme, which the company has used to varying degrees in different markets worldwide, will be expanded upon by McKinney.

“Part of our task is to bring it all together and actually give it some momentum,” Nguyen said.

Crocs officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

McKinney is Crocs’ first global agency since 2010, when the footwear maker brought the bulk of its advertising work in-house, according to trade publication Ad Age.

Crocs’ brightly colored plastic clogs were a sensation in the U.S. market more than a decade ago, and the company has sold more than 200 million shoes to date. But Crocs is no longer the hot new brand, and the company has been hurt by overexpansion.

In July, the company unveiled a restructuring that includes closing, or converting to third-party operators, 75 to 100 Crocs stores worldwide.

In the third quarter, Crocs’ revenue rose 5 percent to $302.4 million. Net income was $15.8 million, up from $13 million a year ago.

“In a lot of ways, the brand has found a historical niche,” Nguyen said. “It’s one of the top 50 best-designed shoes of all time on a number of lists – which some people are incredulous about and other people absolutely believe it deserves a place there.”

“The funniest thing,” he added, “is that all of my friends who are the biggest fans of Crocs are shoe designers.”

Among McKinney’s other clients are Sherwin-Williams, Nationwide, Travelocity, Samsung, Mentos, ESPN and Gold’s Gym.

McKinney was acquired in 2012 by Cheil Worldwide, a global marketing and communications company based in South Korea. Last year, McKinney added a New York office by absorbing Cheil USA, the U.S. unit of its corporate parent.

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