September 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

Run faster, jump higher, be cooler

When you’re a company known for basic canvas sneakers, it’s hard to cultivate an image of coolness. But Keds Inc. is hoping to pull off an image change with a micro-website featuring actress Mischa Barton, star of the Fox TV series “The OC” and the epitome of cool for many young women.

When you’re a company known for basic navy or white canvas sneakers, it’s hard to cultivate an image of coolness. But Keds Inc. is hoping to pull off an image change with a micro-website featuring actress Mischa Barton, star of the Fox TV series “The OC” and the epitome of cool for many young women.

The micro-website-launched in the spring-is producing a conversion rate above 2% for athletic shoe retailer Keds.com, says Peter Kim, director of marketing.

Keds designed the micro-site to attract women shoppers between 19 and 25, Kim says. “Keds is a brand for everybody, but we’re really trying to refocus on this 19- to 25-year-old epicenter, and Mischa was perfect for that,” he says.

The micro-site creates an aura of coolness for the 89-year-old Keds brand through such features as videos of the behind-the-scenes activity in a photo shoot featuring Barton, audio postcards from the actress commenting on the hot spots of Los Angeles, and a sampler of music from on-the-rise recording artists. Customers also can download computer wallpaper from the site featuring photos of Barton in various poses.

“There are a lot of different features just talking about cool things, just being cool,” Kim says. “We’re focusing on delivering it in a powerful interactive way using Flash and some other interactive technology that really brings it to life for this core consumer.”

The site also has a link to “cool shoes” with a variety of colors and styles that should appeal more to young women than the classic Champion tennis shoe Keds has been selling since 1916, Kim says. Barton models many of the styles.

Customers link to the micro-site by clicking on a photo of Barton on the Keds.com home page.

Keds is promoting the micro-site through a national ad campaign in magazines targeting young women, such as Jane, InStyle and Vogue. The ads carry the tag line “be cool.” Keds also promoted the site through an e-mail campaign.

Keds plans to continue to use the micro-site, “although we would like to incorporate more of this into the Keds.com site as the overall brand becomes another degree of cooler,” Kim says. m

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