Burnett Bows Out On Fruit

CHICAGO-Fruit of the Loom Inc. has identified a list of contenders for its $28 million North American account, but Leo Burnett has declined to participate.
Burnett’s Toronto office-which assumed control of the account from the Chicago office last year-resigned the U.S. and Canada business rather than take part in the review. Sources said Burnett bowed out after the Bowling Green, Ky.-based client had tested new creative ideas from the incumbent and from Warwick Baker & O’Neill, New York, the agency for the client’s BVD underwear brand. Apparently not satisfied with the results, the company initiated talks with several non-roster shops.
Fruit of the Loom said in a statement that it has “identified a very short list of agencies” for the review. A company representative confirmed reports that shops under consideration include Warwick; Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners in New York; and Chicago shops The Leap Partnership, Lois/EJL and Hal Riney & Partners.
Other shops on Fruit of the Loom’s roster include Mullen Advertising in Wenham, Mass., which handles Gitano apparel, and Harris Drury Cohen in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., agency for the ProPlayer line of licensed apparel. Laughlin/Constable in Milwaukee, which has handled promotional marketing projects for Fruit of the Loom, has not been invited to pitch the advertising assignment.
The company spent $28 million on U.S. advertising for the Fruit of the Loom brand in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Burnett handles Fruit of the Loom assignments in more than a dozen countries outside North America. The client will decide on a market-by-market basis whether Burnett will continue to handle the brand overseas, according to an agency representative.