Briefs Are In, Dot-Com Is Out

The Richards Group is trying on a new pair of skivvies, even as one of its dot-com clients slips out the back door.

The Dallas agency last week was selected to manage consumer advertising for the 149-year-old Fruitof the Loom brand. The account, which includes media buying duties, is estimated at $15-20 million.

Other finalists for the Bowling Green, Ky., maker of undergarments and activewear were Campbell Mithun of Minneapolis and Creative Alliance in Louisville, Ky.

Fruit of the Loom’s last agency of record, Warwick Baker O’Neill in New York, resigned the account at the beginning of the year after the client said it would reorganize under Chapter 11. The shop did not participate in the current review.

Client vice president of marketing services John Shivel said the company is looking forward to ending the advertising hiatus caused by its filing for bankruptcy protection.

“It’s almost like a relaunch for us,” Shivel said. “What we were looking for was truly a strategic partner … Richards was clearly able to demonstrate to us … that their key is: ‘Let’s get the strategy right and then actually look at creative executions from that.’ “

Fruit of the Loom did not request spec creative in the review in order to be more strategically focused, Shivel said.

New partner Diane Fannon led the winning account team at Richards. Former roster shop Keller Crescent in Evansville, Ind., was awarded Fruit of the Loom’s business-to-business account.

Plans call for the client to launch a new campaign “certainly for back-to-school [2001] if not before,” said Shivel. “That’s when underwear starts flying off the shelves.”

Last week Richards also saw the surprise departure of one of its dot-com clients. The live interactive Web conferencing site Mshow.com of Highlands Ranch, Colo., moved its advertising account to Workhorse Advertising in Boulder, Colo. There was no review.

Workhorse had previously handled several marketing projects for Mshow.com. Said client spokesperson Chris Jessup: “[Workhorse] just gets it. They’ve done some awesome work for us. We’re very, very happy with them.”

Print ads from Workhorse break this week in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Houston Chronicle. The undisclosed media budget for the client also includes Web advertising, direct mail and collateral.