Toth Re-enters New Business Fold, Wins Easy Spirit, Massimo, Esprit

Toth Design & Advertising has rebounded from the loss of Tommy Hilfiger, its largest client.
The Concord, Mass., creative boutique has replaced almost all of the estimated $30-40 million account with projects from Massimo in New York and Esprit in San Francisco as well as an agency-of-record assignment from Easy Spirit, which is owned by Nine West Group in White Plains, N.Y.
A late entrant into the estimated $10-15 million Easy Spirit contest, Toth presented a campaign idea it pulled together in only five days. “We got lucky and nailed it,” said agency founder Michael Toth.
The creative concept presented to the women’s shoe retailer will be executed as part of a brand campaign now in development for the fall, Toth said. The agency pitched the account with PGR Media in Providence, R.I. Easy Spirit executives could not be reached for comment last week.
Despite the breakup of Toth and Hilfiger, PGR recently signed a three-year contract to handle Hilfiger’s media buying and planning chores, working in conjunction with the client’s new creative shop, Arnell Group Brand Consulting in New York.
PGR also will work in conjunction with Toth as it pitches the $20-25 million L.L. Bean account. In that competition, Toth will compete against full-service shops, perhaps making the agency a long shot, but its leader is undaunted. “We like being the underdog,” Toth said.
Hilfiger’s rapid expansion into new product areas such as footwear and fragrances closed Toth off from clients in product categories that it is now eagerly pursuing.
“I followed their success with Tommy,” said Massimo Giannulli, chairman of the board and self-described visionary for the Massimo brand. “When I heard that its relationship with Tommy was over, I called Michael and said, ‘Take me to the goddamn promised land.’ Michael has a great sense of where business meets art.”
The Hilfiger loss was not without consequence. Some 10 staffers, mostly in Toth’s New York office, lost their jobs. The recent spate of new assignments, however, has creating some job opportunities at the agency.
No longer dominated by a single client, Toth has been aggressively pursuing new business for the first time in years. The hustle began last year when the agency chose not to participate in the Hilfiger review. Toth’s contract with the high-profile client ended March 30.