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Bell: Dirt over pavement; beer over wine

Published September 24, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN) — With its new products, marketing and staffing, Bell is aiming to recapture its past relevancy with the action sports scene.

Executives at the Bell helmet division of Easton-Bell Sports have completed a two-year effort at re-engineering the brand.

Bell will give a “disproportionate amount of attention” to the dirtier, grittier side of the bike world, including BMX and gravity mountain biking, Bell’s Jessica Klodnicki said.

“Bell is about dirt, not pavement. It’s beer, not wine,” she said.

Klodnicki, Bell's senior vp of product and brand marketing, spoke with BRAIN at Interbike Thursday.

While the Bell brand is not leaving the road cycling or cross-country mountain biking product categories, Klodnicki said the brand’s 2013 designs and marketing get back to its roots in action sports.

“Bell was founded in 1954 as an action brand. Moto was the original action sport and Bell was right there at the center of it,” she said. Bell helmets were used by Steve McQueen and Evel Knievel, she noted.

Bell emphasized three new helmet models at Interbike, all for dirt use: The carbon fiber Full-9 helmet was designed with two- time World Cup downhill champion Aaron Gwin for BMX or downhill. The Super is a new all-mountain/enduro helmet. And the Segment is a new hard shell BMX lid.

Klodnicki noted that Bell’s last major road helmet introduction was for the Gage model, used by the BMC team during the spring classics in Belgium. 

“We’re not going away from the road, but future development for the road will be through a Bell lens, which is more about the spring classics than the Tour de France.”

Kodnicki joined Bell in February after stints at Mizuno and Newell Rubbermaid.

The new branding was the result of a "pretty rigorous exploration of our DNA and brand.”

She said the new branding was the result of a “pretty rigorous exploration of our DNA and brand.”

One result of the exploration was a Bell “brand book,” a 30-page in-house reference document that talks about Bell’s history and culture.

Another result was a new understanding of the Bell customer. “We call our consumer ‘the Headbanger,’ which our lawyers don’t like,” she said. “Our customer is out there hucking off things, pushing their limits. They use our helmets.”

With that in mind, recent changes include product development, marketing, packaging, connections with athletes and events, and a new website launching soon.

Staff changes

Besides Klodnicki, the Bell brand has a host of new faces and has seen some familiar faces moved into new positions recently.

Dave Hayes, a former product manager for Easton-Bell’s Blackburn brand, has become Bell's senior channel development manager,. His job is to connect ideas from dealers and sales reps to Bell's product and marketing teams. 

A new hire is Toni Orr, who reports to Hayes in the newly created channel development manager position.

Palermini, a long-time brand manager for Bell, was promoted to director of marketing in June last year. 

Recent additions to the marketing staff include brand manager Azul Couzens, a former Camelback marketing manager; content producer Benny Cruickshank, who came from SRAM’s Avid marketing team; and sports marketing and events manager Allan Cooke, a former brand manager at Haro Bikes and an X-Games gold medalist.

 

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