Levi Shops Brace for Changes




Latest Management Overhaul Could Spell Agency Shifts
SAN FRANCISCO–Agencies are watching and waiting for fallout from Levi Strauss & Co.’s shakeup of its marketing department last week to reach the agency roster.
Some sources see the shakeup as a reprieve for TBWA/Chiat/ Day which handles the ailing Levi’s brand. The agency had a strained relationship with Rob Holloway, vice president brand development for the Americas, who was ousted by Philip Marineau who became CEO in September, said sources. While Holloway was once considered by client management to be the savior of Levi’s brand, “Marineau felt he did not have the experience and track record needed for the job,” said Jeff Beckman, a representative for San Francisco-based Levi Strauss.
TBWA/C/D has survived multiple management overhauls since winning the the flagship Levi’s jeans business from longtime shop Foote, Cone & Belding in January 1998. “We are optimistic,” said Peter Angelos, creative director at the San Francisco office. “It gives us a chance to play on a level playing field. We have all busted our butts on this account.” The previous week Holloway’s predecessor, Gordon Shank, was forced to resign as chief marketing officer and his position was eliminated by Marineau.
However, other sources speculate that the shakeup spells an opportunity for Dockers shop FCB, which has a close relationship with Holloway’s successor, James Capon, who has served as head of marketing for the Dockers division since 1993. FCB’s San Francisco office has handled Dockers advertising since the brand’s inception. Beckman stated there are no plans to shift any agency assignments.
Capon’s appointment signals fast-growing Dockers growing importance within the company. FCB’s summer ad campaign for Docker’s was extended into this fall since it measured well in reaching the youth adult market, said client officials. In 1998 Dockers experienced record sales and profits to partially offset the slipping Levi’s jean brand; that trend has continued in 1999, said sources.
Capon’s performance on Dockers shows he knows how to “successfully reach out to young adults and women,” said Beckman. He added that FCB’s current work are “some of the most successful Dockers ads ever.” Levi’s spent $29 million on Dockers ads last year and roughly $60 million on the Levi’s brand, according to Competitive Media Reporting. –with Richard Linnett and Andrew McMain