Levi’s Eyes Zenith for Media

NEW YORK Levi Strauss has tentatively selected Zenith Media to handle media chores, subject to finalizing terms for a new contract, according to sources. The parties have been negotiating for more than a week and cautioned that talks are ongoing, sources said.

The pending selection was made after a review that the client commenced in August. The client spent $70 million on ads in 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Interpublic Group’s Initiative is the buying incumbent. Planning has been split between IPG’s Draftfcb (Dockers) and Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty (Levi’s).

BBH also has been the client’s lead creative agency in the Americas, although just last week, the client called a creative review for that region, and BBH indicated that it would not defend. The shop, which said it remains the client’s agency of record for Europe and Asia, has handled the Americas account at its New York office.

Zenith referred calls to the client. Last week, asked for a status report on the media review, a client representative said, “We are wrapping up that review and expect to announce in mid/late November.” Client reps did not immediately respond to an inquiry today about the pending selection of Zenith.

The client made headlines earlier this year with a viral video developed by project shop Cutwater. Called “Jumpin’ In,” it features agile youths who appear to back-flip into jeans held aloft by their buddies. The video garnered 3.5 million hits in 10 days. The clip was released May 5 to stir curiosity leading into Levi’s first global brand campaign for its flagship 501 jeans, “Live unbuttoned,” which will run into the fall.

Just last week, Zenith won Harrah’s $120 million media assignment after a review.