TBWA C/D Wins Levi’s

Agency Stresses Brand Strength Over Tags

SAN FRANCISCO–As part of its winning pitch for the $90 million Levi’s brand account, TBWA Chiat/Day proposed abandoning the use of a tagline in future advertising.
Lee Clow, the agency’s chairman and chief creative officer, told the review committee: “Your brand is your tagline,” said sources. Levi’s has not been advertised without a tag in decades.
Also among the ideas TBWA C/D presented was a strategy to reinforce the brand’s iconic status–with ads focusing, for instance, on a piece of Levi’s imagery, such as the red tab found on its jeans or a new image created by the agency, said sources.
The agency also suggested using more print, radio and outdoor ads, while reducing the brand’s reliance on TV commercials, sources said.
Incumbent Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, had proposed a new campaign with the theme “It’s on you” to stress “individuality,” said sources. FCB’s current work features TV commercials in a serial format under the theme, “They go on.”
Hal Riney & Partners here presented a number of different ideas that sources described as youthful, “hip and cutting-edge.” One source noted that the in-your-face style of the work was unusual for Riney, which is known for its heartwarming spots for clients such as Saturn.
In response to Levi’s request for a list of staffers who would work on the account, Riney had each name signed onto one of the leather patches found on the back of Levi’s jeans. The patches were then framed for the committee.
BBDO, TBWA Chiat/Day’s sister Omnicom Group agency, pitched the theme, “Something good is going on,” said sources. Also pitching was international Levi’s shop Bartle Bogle Hegarty in London.
“[We] have a real good understanding of the brand and its place in America as an icon,” said TBWA C/D president and chief executive Bob Kuperman. “And we believe it should behave like one.” Kuperman declined to elaborate on details of the pitch.
Tom Fanoe, president of Levi’s Brand USA, told employees in an internal memo that the agency was picked for its “great strategic thinking, powerful creative vision and innovative media strategies for reaching our target consumer.”
Other factors that helped the agency win the business were its recent takeover of the Ketchum Advertising office near Levi’s headquarters here and the presence of San Francisco creative director Peter Angelos, who has long history with the client. –with Alison Fahey