GLOBAL BRIEF: Levi’s rethink spawns review - FCB’s 67-year relationship with Levi’s in the US is now threatened

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.

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

account.



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

relationship.



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

shortlist.



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

about.



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.



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