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Behind Times, Foster Grant Looks Ahead

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BOSTON Duffy & Shanley said it has been hired for creative, media and public relations chores by eyewear producer Foster Grant.

The independent agency in Providence, R.I., placed the budget at approximately $5 million. The mission, according to the shop, is to revitalize the brand in the national marketplace with work that debuts early next year.

Foster Grant, which has done little traditional advertising in recent years, had most recently worked with various shops on a project basis.

The client's star-studded campaigns (with film, music, TV and arts celebrities of the day "behind those Foster Grants") rank among the most famous in advertising history and helped establish the brand as a fashion leader in the 1960s and '70s.

A noteworthy attempt to jump-start the brand's appeal was made by Interpublic Group's Mullen in 2002. That print-based push featured modern celebrities and one ad headlined "Isn't that Cindy Crawford behind those Foster Grants?" showing the supermodel wearing a pear of dark frames.

"We were impressed with the quality of Duffy & Shanley creative work and interested in their strength in public relations strategies," said Alec Taylor, client CEO. "Their expertise in revitalizing heritage brands, as they most recently accomplished with Narragansett Beer, made them the clear choice."

Agency president Jon Duffy said the brand and agency are also well matched because of the latter's fashion-sector expertise. (The agency has worked for Nike and Swarovski, and last month added work from Eurosocks.)

The client in Smithfield, R.I., was founded in 1919 and operates under the name FGX International, producing Foster Grant and lesser-known brands like Anarchy and Gargoyles sunglasses and Magnivision non-prescription reading glasses.

This is the second eyewear icon to make an agency selection this year, following the move by Luxottica's Milan, Italy-based Ray-Ban to TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco after a review [Adweek Online, May 24].

IPG's McCann Erickson has worked on the account through its Italian operations. Ray-Ban spent $5 million last year in domestic measured media, per TNS Media Intelligence. Introduced in 1937, the brand gained icon status in the 1950s and '60s via appearances in fashion spreads and films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's, in which Audrey Hepburn wore Ray-Bans.