Bartle Bogle Hegarty's hold on Levi's account falters

LONDON - Bartle Bogle Hegarty is bracing itself for the potential loss of one of its most successful and iconic accounts with the news that Levi's is talking to agencies about its advertising business.

The jeans manufacturer has arranged meetings with a number of undisclosed London agencies, although no formal talks have yet been held. It is unclear whether the talks will involve the global business, or its European or UK sections.

The talks come as Levi's battles plummeting sales in the UK and Europe. Levi's European sales have fallen by 19 per cent since mid-2005.

A full review will come as a body blow to BBH. Along with Audi, Levi's was a BBH founding client in 1982 and has been responsible for much of BBH's creative success over the past quarter of a century.

BBH's 1985 "launderette" ad, starring the model Nick Kamen and featuring the Marvin Gaye track I Heard It Through the Grapevine, is largely credited with turning around the fortunes of the jeans manufactuer in the 80s. Other iconic Levi's campaigns include "creek", "Flat Eric" and "odyssey".

BBH was appointed to the business globally in 2002, when Levi's handed its $60m account to BBH New York.

In June, Levi's hired Colin Clarke as the consumer marketing director at its European division. Clarke said: "Our relationship stands with BBH. There are no conversations going on with anyone else."

BBH declined to comment.

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