Building the Fogdog Brand on Internet Time
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Building the Fogdog Brand on Internet Time

We established Fogdog as the industry leader by initiating an extensive media relations campaign that showcased Fogdog’s appeal in a variety of participatory sports; its comprehensive product offering; product information; knowledgeable, customer-friendly

Paul Holmes is a leading online sporting goods retailer that provides a superior shopping experience with an extensive product selection, robust content, expert advice and personalized shopping.  Based in the Silicon Valley, in Redwood City, Calif., the company was re-launched under its current mantle in November 1998 and became the fastest growing electronic commerce site of its kind in 1999 and continuing into 2000. 

A ‘fogdog’ is defined as a ray of light that burns through the fog. is committed to guiding the customer through the panoply of sports merchandise by providing extensive information, selection and highly responsive customer service.  The agency was brought on in February 1999 specifically to help brand the site for consumers.  Fineman Associates continued its branding efforts in 2000 until October when Fogdog was sold to Global Sports, Inc.


Position Fogdog in a compelling way that would project the Fogdog personality and inspire consumer confidence.

Communicate its key differentiators.

Drive traffic to the site by reaching business, trade and consumer media.

Brand Fogdog as the answer to all sporting goods needs and inquiries.


Fogdog’s consumer base is men and women, aged 25 to 44, who are active sports participants.


Through our ongoing efforts, we established Fogdog as the industry leader by initiating an extensive media relations campaign that showcased Fogdog’s appeal in a variety of participatory sports; its comprehensive product offering; product information; knowledgeable, customer-friendly service; and its anytime, anywhere consumer-centric approach.  

For the agency, the year 2000 began in earnest with Fogdog’s emergence from the quiet period of its late ’99 IPO. That IPO was subsequently covered in such national publications as The Wall Street Journal, Industry Standard, Inc., Red Herring and Washington Business Journal as well as several local dailies.

In March 2000, Fogdog launched a new advertising campaign with Isaac Hayes as the narrator and featuring an original soundtrack he had composed for the spots. We gave Entertainment Tonight the exclusive. Later the story ran in several print publications including Adweek, Brandweek and the San Jose Business Journal

Just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, we sent selected national television meteorologists tips for water safety during the busy holiday weekend.  Along with the tips, we sent Fogdog-branded life vests and swimming goggles with hologram reptile eyes.  The meteorologists at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, WUSA-TV in Washington and KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, among others, wore the life vests and/or goggles during their newscasts. The results were more than eight minutes of branded coverage.

Another significant step in our plan was to visit the media directly.  We arranged a New York City media tour and accompanied Fogdog CEO Tim Harrington during the second week of June to generate awareness of Fogdog as well as its newly launched women’s store:  During our two-day visit, we visited the offices of Barron’s, Bloomberg, Cosmopolitan, New York Times, Self, Sporting Goods Business and Women’s Wear Daily.  

And well in advance of the holidays, Fineman Associates contacted every major consumer media outlet with its “What’s Hot for the Holidays” list and photos.  Fogdog was mentioned in virtually every major article about online shopping.  Fogdog became well established as a media favorite and an often used media resource for any story about its sporting goods category, online shopping, gifts, and e-commerce.


If you can measure success by sheer volume of press clippings, our goals at the beginning of our program have been far surpassed.  Fogdog Sports has been mentioned in thousands of stories and online postings and has been prominently featured in many roundups of e-tailing sites and sporting goods sites in both trade, consumer and business media.  Fogdog was also widely mentioned in holiday roundup stories about where to shop for Christmas gifts.  Additionally, when Fogdog filed its Initial Public Offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it received widespread pre-IPO and IPO coverage because it had the media’s attention as a nationally known e-commerce Web site.  Our campaign was so successful that reporters from publications like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today regularly initiated calls to us for commentary from CEO Tim Harrington for stories about retailing and e-commerce.

Fogdog was the only sporting goods e-tailer that Media Metrix ranked in the top 100 shopping sites and Fortune Magazine twice named Fogdog among the top 10 shopping sites on the Web.  Media Metrix numbers consistently showed that Fogdog gained more than the total traffic of its three closest competitors combined.  All of this was achieved largely through public relations since Fogdog had very limited advertising in 1999 and 2000.  
Fogdog was often listed alongside e-commerce giants like, and  Fogdog Sports was top of mind for media and for consumers as one of the most familiar and trusted e-tailers on the Internet.  While other e-tailers spent considerably more on their overall marketing efforts, Fogdog remains the leading consumer sporting goods Web site still standing.

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