Fila Launches Overseas Review

Burnett Unlikely to Pitch, May Drop Footwear Maker’s U.S. Account
CHICAGO–Fila Holding S.p.A. is contacting agencies about its overseas advertising business, sources said. Billings are worth $25 million.
The review was spurred by top management changes at the footwear maker based in Biella, Italy, sources said. In the past two years, Fila has named a new chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Earlier this month, it hired Allessandro De Pestel from Swatch as vice president, ads and promotions.
Leo Burnett here won what was Fila’s $15-20 million U.S. account last July. It was unclear if the review would affect Burnett’s business. Burnett has been invited to pitch, but is likely to decline and may resign the U.S. portion, said sources.
Fila officials declined to comment; Burnett referred calls to the client.
Billings on the U.S. account have not lived up to expectations. Fila only spent $5 million on ads last year, down from nearly $20 million in 1997. Most of last year’s spending was supported print ads for the GH5 Grant Hill-endorsed basketball shoe. Burnett never produced TV work for the client.
Burnett won the account in a high-profile pitch last July, enlisting former Nike worldwide advertising director Joe McCarthy as a consultant. McCarthy was later enlisted to head the account team, but was only employed part-time.
The shop appeared to be in good favor with the client and expected to be awarded global ad duties worth an additional $25 million [Adweek, Sept. 28], which is now at several local shops. The shift never occurred.
In March, Burnett produced what was billed as an $8 million print campaign that introduced a new tagline, “Show the world your soul.” The previous line was “Change the game” from AG in New York.
Fila, which spent nearly $2.5 million through May, has since landed Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa and women’s soccer star Carla Overbeck as endorsers.