Levi’s Short List Due This Week

Client Eyeing Conflicted Shops for $90 Mil. Account, Sources Say
SAN FRANCISCO-A short list of agencies invited to participate in Levi Strauss & Co.’s estimated $90 million U.S. brand advertising account review will be unveiled by the client this week, according to sources.
The list will include incumbent Foote, Cone & Belding here, as well as Levi’s international agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London.
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which both work for Nike, also top the list of invitees, said sources. The client is also considering approaching conflicted shops such as Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, the lead agency for Lee Jeans. Nike might also perceive Levi’s to be a conflict since they both market apparel to teens.
In addition, Hal Riney & Partners here; BBDO and Ogilvy & Mather, both in New York; and TBWA Chiat/Day in Venice, Calif., are expected to be invited, sources said.
Steve Goldstein, vice president, marketing and research at Levi’s brand USA in San Francisco, characterized the list as “fair,” but would only confirm the participation of FCB.
The relationship between Levi’s and FCB has been deteriorating, said sources. About two years ago, the late Mike Koelker, FCB’s executive creative director who personally tended to Levi’s account for 25 years, was replaced by Paul Wolfe, who oversaw other accounts besides the Levi’s account. Sources said Wolfe’s relationships with key client marketing executives became strained over the last year. Also, Chuck McBride, credited with developing highly acclaimed Levi’s ads, was recently asked off the account due to “creative differences” with the client. Levi’s has also moved various marketing tasks from FCB during that time.
Levi’s brand USA president Tom Fanoe has said, “We’re pleased with the initial results” of the new “They go on” campaign. Sources, however, said Levi’s has “not been pleased.”
The review “is not [about] FCB’s creative talents,” said Goldstein, “but we have to be certain there isn’t even better nurturing to be found elsewhere.” Levi’s sales were flat through July 1997. -with Sloane Lucas