Lee Enlists AAR for Review

NEW YORK Lee jeans has hired AAR Partners here to guide a review of its ad account after parting ways this week with Fallon, according to Kathy Collins, Lee’s vice president of marketing.

Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis, which won the business in 1986, said in a statement that the agency and client could not agree on a “future strategic and creative direction” for the brand.

Collins did not comment on why the relationship broke down.

“Fallon is proud of its long relationship with Lee jeans, creating successful campaigns and award-winning work for nearly two decades. Fallon thanks Lee … for the many years of working together on this fabulous brand and wishes its management team the very best in the future,” the agency said.

Lee is owned by Greensboro, N.C.-based VF Corp. The brand team is in Kansas City, Mo. Sources expect the company to put Lee into review.

Sources said the client is gearing up for a review, but it is unclear if a consultancy would be engaged to guide the process.

VF Corp. spent $30 million advertising Lee brands in the U.S. in 2004 but less than $5 million this year from January through July, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Fallon’s most recent work for the client was a viral Web effort in which the brand icon, Buddy Lee, acts as a guidance counselor (an extension of its TV campaign) who gives career advice. The site can be viewed at www.buddylee-guidancecounselor.com.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with client confirmation of a review and the news that AAR has been hired.