K-Swiss Taps Band of Gypsies

Footwear maker K-Swiss has handed the creative portion of its $15-20 million account to small boutique shop Band of Gypsies without a review.

The client, based in Westlake Village, Calif., said it had grown weary of watching its account get shuffled around as the result of mergers and acquisitions at its agencies. In settling on Band of Gypsies, the client is retuning to a creative, John Stein, who worked on the account when he was a principal at Kresser Stein Robaire.

Most recently K-Swiss was handled by Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., which inherited the business when it acquired Blackboard, a small shop, last November. At the time, the presence of K-Swiss on its roster was seen as a key reason Blackboard was an attractive acquisition target.

Hunter Phillips, RPA’s svp, marketing director, was president of Blackboard before the RPA takeover. He said K-Swiss belongs at a small creative shop.

“We’re working with them on the transition,” he said. “There are things we do, like strategic planning, that they already do in-house.”

K-Swiss vp of marketing Debbie Mitchell said she had grown exasperated by the parade of new faces taking a stab at the account. “Over the past six years, the name of the agency handling our account has changed five times,” she said. “Every time it happens we have to get a whole new group of people up to speed. We are a very loyal client, and we always stuck with the agencies even after the mergers. We just decided it was a good idea to go with John’s agency.”

Mitchell said the agreement calls for Band of Gypsies to create all of the company’s TV ads for 2002. K-Swiss had sales of $221 million last year. It spent $18 million on TV ads in 2000 and $8 million through June of this year, according to CMR.

Stein said he was elated at K-Swiss’ decision. “I have been on cloud nine ever since I got the call,” he said. A 25-year veteran of the ad business, Stein operated Band of Gypsies for three years before joining Dailey & Associates in 1999. He left Dailey in June and resurrected his old shop in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

It was the 1994 merger of Kres ser Craig and Stein Robaire Helm that brought Stein to the K-Swiss account. In 1995, the account moved to Fattal & Collins after a review. That shop became Houston Helm Fattal Collins and then changed its name again, to Blackboard, after three of its principals departed.