TBWA C/D To Levi: Drop All Taglines

One Winning Pitch Idea Relied on Presenting Brand as Icon
SAN FRANCISCO-As part of its winning pitch for the $90 million Levi’s account, TBWA Chiat/Day proposed abandoning the use of a tagline in future advertising while reducing the brand’s reliance on TV, sources said.
Lee Clow, the Venice, Calif., agency’s chairman and chief creative officer, told the review committee: “Your brand is your tagline,” said sources. Levi’s has not been advertised without a tagline in decades.
Instead, TBWA C/D presented a strategy to reinforce the brand’s iconic status with ads focusing, for instance, on a single element of Levi’s image, such as the red tab found on its jeans, said sources.
“[We] have a real good understanding of the brand and its place in America as an icon,” said TBWA Chiat/Day president and chief executive Bob Kuperman. “And we believe it should behave like one.” Kuperman declined to elaborate on specific details of the pitch.
Another influential factor in the selection of TBWA Chiat/Day, said sources, was that the agency already has a San Franciso office up and running after taking over Ketchum’s operation near Levi’s headquarters. In addition, the presence of Peter Angelos-who has a long history with the client-as creative director of the San Francisco office is said to have helped the agency’s bid.
Incumbent Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, meanwhile, proposed a new campaign with the theme, “It’s on you,” which stressed “individuality,” said sources. FCB’s current work features the line, “They go on.”
Hal Riney & Partners here did not pitch a single concept. Instead the agency presented a number of different campaigns. Sources described the agency’s approach as youthful, “hip and cutting edge.” One source noted that the in-your-face style of the work was unusual for Riney, which is known for its comfortable, heartwarming spots for clients such as Saturn cars.
BBDO presented work based on the theme, “Something good is going on,” said sources. Also pitching was international Levi’s shop Bartle Bogle Hegarty in London.
Tom Fanoe, president of Levi’s Brand USA, told employees in an internal memo that TBWA Chiat/Day was picked for its “great strategic thinking, powerful creative vision and innovative media strategies for reaching our target consumer.”