Swiss Army Cuts Mullen Ad Ties

Mullen has parted with another showpiece advertising account, Swiss Army Brands. Just two years ago the agency’s Swiss Army work scored best-of-show honors at the Francis W. Hatch Awards.

The client in Shelton, Conn., is working with Lloyd (+ Co.), New York, on campaigns breaking in fall issues of national consumer magazines, according to Swiss Army marketing director Marcella George. The executions feature Swiss Army watches and knives and continue to use the line, “Swiss Army equipped,” developed by Mullen.

It has not been determined if Lloyd will be on board for the long haul, and an agency review is possible, George said. Ad spending this year is expected to be in the seven figures. Mullen, Wenham, Mass., retains public relations duties.

Swiss Army worked with Mullen for nearly four years. “They made huge contributions to our business,” George said. “But creatively, we felt that we needed to go somewhere else and evolve that positioning.”

Though the ads had been consistent award winners, failure to move sales to the client’s satisfaction influenced Swiss Army’s decision to part with Mullen, sources said. However, David Swaebe, a public relations account supervisor on the account, insisted it was a “mutual decision” for Mullen to focus on public relations rather than advertising.

At the Advertising Club of Greater Boston’s Hatch Awards in 1998, Mullen’s Swiss Army work won best-of-show honors and 14 gold bowls.

Mullen has had a rough time of late. The shop failed to defend Monster.com’s $75-90 million domestic account and is splitting with L.L. Bean, worth $15-20 million. The shop failed to win Goldman Sachs and General Motors’ Hummer. It has, however, recently added work from Fortune magazine, and is pitching the $15 million Instinet business.