Executive Shift At Levi Another Headache For FCB

With Agency Relationships in Flux, Dockers to Lose Marketing VP
SAN FRANCISCO–In a move that adds more uncertainty to the advertising plans of Dockers, the division of Levi Strauss & Co. will lose its vice president of marketing this fall.
Richard Hanson, who has worked closely with Dockers agency Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco, will become vice president of brand development as of late September, overseeing Levi jeans, Dockers and Slates in Europe, confirmed a representative. His replacement here has not been named.
Hanson most recently replaced FCB’s summer TV campaign with a spot by Bartle Bogle Hegarty in London, which handles the brand in Europe [Adweek, July 20]. FCB is working on a new campaign for late fall.
Hanson was slated to head to Europe in 1999. The acceleration of his move is seen as a vote of confidence on his handling of Dockers and its agencies.
“The change in executives will make FCB feel even more under the gun,” said an agency source. “BBH is aggressive and well-liked by the client. A new vice president [will add] more uncertainty to FCB’s situation.”
The shift comes in the wake of a worldwide sales slump for the San Francisco apparel marketer, particularly in U.S. jeans sales, making the growing Dockers brand increasingly important to the client’s bottom line, said sources. Dockers worldwide sales are expected to match jeans sales by 2000, per industry reports.
Ad spending for Dockers will likely equal outlays for Levi’s jeans this year and may outpace that amount in 1999, said sources. Levi spent nearly $50 million on ads for jeans and about $30 million for Dockers in 1997, per Competitive Media Reporting.
The privately held company has not released any 1998 sales figures. It reported a 4 percent drop in sales, to $6.9 billion last year, the first decline in 13 years.
Levi recently promoted Gordon Shank to the new post of chief marketing officer (from president of Levi Strauss Americas) and named veteran Rob Holloway as vice president of brand development for the Americas.
–with Jane Irene Kelly