Levi’s Smaller Shops to Boost Retail Presence

Levi Strauss & Co. is expected to call upon its “boutique and design shops” to help step up its brand presence at the retail level, as it seeks to break out of a sales slump.
TBWA/Chiat/Day, which now handles most of those duties, is expected to step back and give more attention to creating a fall campaign that will put Levi’s jeans in a more “sexy, sophisticated” light, said sources.
This approach will be a significant change from recent efforts for Levi’s, which have taken a cocky, and occasionally grungy approach.
Meantime, Levi executives plan to put more energy into direct-to-retail efforts in a move to rekindle interest from department stores and their buyers.
“We need to upgrade our overall in-store presentation, simplify the shopping experience and establish more distinct personalities for our jeans brands,” said Sean Dee, director of marketing for the Levi’s brand in the U.S. Levi’s will probably turn to roster shops such as Swirl, San Francisco, for those tasks, said Dee.
Levi last week reported that 1998 sales fell 13 percent to $6 billion, from $6.9 billion in 1997, primarily due to a downturn in jeans sales. The company said it intends to close 11 factories and lay off about 5,900 workers.
Dee emphasized that Levi’s likes to work with a number of agencies, and denied that TBWA/C/D’s role is being diminished. He added that one of the shop’s new assignments will be to help grow Levi’s L2 jeans. These products, which haven’t received much support, are found in discount outlets such as Sears.
TBWA/C/D declined comment on the ad duties, but did say it hired Kieran Hannon from Saatchi & Saatchi, San Francisco, as U.S. account director for Levi’s, a new position.
Separately, Levi shop Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, saw a loss on its Dockers business with last week’s exit of senior vice president, group creative director Chris Shipman. –with Michael McCarth