Outdoor apparel company Merrell names Finn Partners as AOR

The company is looking to expand its appeal from strictly being thought of as an outdoor apparel-maker.

ROCKFORD, MI: Outdoor apparel company Merrell has named Finn Partners as its AOR.

The company began looking for a new PR firm in March and started working with Finn Partners in September, according to Lauren King, PR manager for Merrell and the leader of the search.

Previously, Merrell had worked with New York based Bratskeir & Company and was happy with its efforts, King said. However, the company reorganized last year and decided to put more effort into PR to reach a broader audience.

"With that shift we really grew," King said. "We were growing a lot and needed a little bit more support from a larger firm that had more experience with strategic comms and branding."

The agency has assembled an account team of six people from Chicago, Detroit, and New York, led by Kara Cook, a Chicago-based partner, according to a Finn Partners spokesperson.

King said Merrell has traditionally positioned itself as a gear company, but it wants Finn to expand its appeal. "A lot of what we’ve done in the past focused on product and not so much on Merrell as a brand and the impact we can have as a brand," she said.

Merrell’s products are often featured in best hiking gear roundups and lists, King said, but the company wants to create "emotional connections with consumers and have people understand that Merrell is about more than having shoes on your feet. It’s about the experience on the trail."  

King added that the search for a new firm began shortly after she was hired.

"When I started, I didn’t want to go through the whole RFP process," King said. "I knew what I was looking for and had worked with the Finn team before and had a great experience."

Merrell no longer works with Bratskeir, King said, but sends some work to a former Bratskeir staffer. A Bratskeir spokesperson declined to comment on the account move.

Merrell is one of several brands owned by Rockford, Michigan-based Wolverine, which reported revenues of $558.6 million in Q3 2018, down nearly 4% from the same period of last year. Finn Partners’ posted a 5% revenue increase last year to $81.9 million.

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