A decline in sales growth, a new client team, the loss of a senior
agency figure - three familiar ingredients in the recipe for an
advertising account review.
But this time the client is Levi Strauss and the agency is Foote Cone &
Belding. Over the duration of their 67-year relationship, all of the
above scenarios (and more) must have cropped up.
Last week, Levi’s announced it was reviewing its dollars 90 million US
Although the shortlist has not been finalised, Levi’s will be hard put
to match the quality of the creative work spawned by its existing
Wieden & Kennedy and Goodby Silverstein, two of the US’s most creative
shops, are precluded from the review by their links with Nike.
It seems safe to assume that Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Levi’s European
agency, will willingly step into any breach that comes up as a result of
the US trawl. TBWA/ Chiat Day also looks likely to appear on the
The review is the surprise result of an internal rethink at Levi’s,
prompted by slackening sales for the world’s number-one clothing brand.
Facing competition from designer ranges and own-label offerings, a new
top management team felt it needed to know what was out there. FCB, with
more than 100 people working on the account, has much to worry
Steve Goldstein, vice-president for marketing and research for Levi’s in
the US, said: ’We know we have good advertising. It has nothing to do
with the current campaign, which I love. It’s to do with the continued
health and welfare of the Levi’s brand.’
For many years the brand’s overall welfare was largely entrusted to Mike
Koelker, the FCB executive creative director who had a close
relationship with the client until his death in 1995. Since then, it
seems Levi’s has lost the faith to keep all its eggs in one basket. Its
interactive and direct marketing accounts have been farmed out to other
agencies in the past year, and it looks as if Levi’s will go the way of
Nike - seeking fresh approaches and healthy competition by splitting its
business between a handful of creative agencies.