Chicago shops with Sara Lee business are expected to be among those in line for Hanes' $10-15 million account following the client's decision to call a review.
Leo Burnett, FCB and Euro RSCG Tatham are among those that could be considered. DDB Chicago, which handles Sara Lee-owned L'Eggs, said it is not interested in the business.
Hanes' decision to call a review appears to stem mainly from its dissatisfaction with Mullen/LHC's recent creative ideas, sources said. The former Long Haymes Carr, Winston-Salem, N.C., which had held the account for nearly two decades, merged with Mullen, Wenham, Mass., in January to form Mullen/LHC.
"As our business has grown and evolved and the retail environment becomes more challenging, we want to assure ourselves that we have the best creative possible," said Peggy Carter, vice president of corporate affairs for Hanes parent Sara Lee Branded Apparel.
Carter said the review would be limited to roster shops, which also includes Temerlin McClain in Irving, Texas. She said Mullen/LHC has been invited to participate.
Both the Hanes underwear and active apparel and Hanes Her Way hosiery will be included in the pitch. Neither a deadline for completing the process nor a list of participating Sara Lee agencies was available at press time.
A Mullen/LHC team, led by chief creative officer Edward Boches, a few weeks ago concocted ads which Hanes officials deemed lacking, sources said. Hanes' senior managers, including CEO Paul Lustig, have been unhappy with the agency's creative product "for a couple of years" and want more "bold and aggressive marketing," which the new work did not contain, said a source close to the situation.
Insisting the review is unrelated to the merger, Carter said, "The timing only has to do with us and our planning cycle. In fact, we think the merger is a positive."
Sources, however, said the merger played a definite role.
"Hanes was furious over the takeover and in no way signed up for Mullen," said one former agency executive who requested anonymity. Another Mullen/LHC client, Alabama Power, departed in the aftermath of the merger, which was mandated by agency parent Lowe Group, an Interpublic Group unit.