Toth Design & Advertising last week was among five agencies making the cut in the review for Fila USA's $15-20 million account.
In addition to the Concord, Mass, shop, the finalists are: Cliff Freeman and Partners and Fallon McElligott, both New York; Leo Burnett, Chicago; and W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich. Doner's Baltimore office handles Fila's ski apparel assignment. In addition, Fila senior vice president of advertising and sports marketing Howe Burch, who is overseeing the review, is a former Doner employee.
It could not be determined at press time whether executives at White Plains, N.Y.-based Nine West Group would allow Toth to proceed in the Fila review. The shop last week won the $15-20 million ad account for the client's Easy Spirit footwear line.
Reached in his office in New York, agency chairman Michael Toth maintained that no conflict exists since Easy Spirit targets mainly women while Fila customers are athletically minded teenagers and young adults.
Asked about Toth's relationship with Easy Spirit, Burch said the shop will remain on the list of contenders for the Fila account.
The finalists are expected to meet with client executives this week at the company's Maryland headquarters and will be given the details of an assignment to develop an overall strategic positioning. These projects are due back in mid-June. A final decision is expected later that month. The winning agency will help launch the GH5, a sneaker endorsed by basketball star Grant Hill.
Ingalls Advertising, Holland Mark Martin Edmund and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, all in Boston, were among the shops that held preliminary discussions with Fila but failed to advance.
Fila placed its account in review in March when Arnell Group Brand Consulting, New York, was forced to resign the business after picking up the $30-40 million Tommy Hilfiger account. --with David Gianatasio
and Scott Hume