Levi's Opens Review of $100 Million Global Media Business

Marketer Looks to Consolidate Business to One or Two Shops; OMD Is North America Incumbent

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Levi Strauss & Co is launching a review of the global media account for its Levi's brand. A spokeswoman for the marketer told Ad Age: "I can confirm that there is an RFP out for media buying. We're working to create a consistent brand platform and leverage our global footprint to create efficiencies around the world."

Levi's spent more than $60 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media, but the global account is estimated to be worth $100 million, with nearly 70% of that being spent in the U.S.

According to people familiar with the situation, the review is an effort by the marketer to consolidate the nearly 20 media agencies it works with around the world to one or two agencies. Executives said the marketer will be inviting less than a handful of those incumbent shops to pitch, although it's still unclear which agencies it will ask to take part.

Omnicom Group's OMD won media planning and buying duties for the Levi's and Dockers brands in North America back in October 2008. The agency went on to produce award-winning work for the clothing manufacturer, including the Dockers shakeable iPhone app. In an interview with Ad Age earlier this year, Karen Riley-Grant, director of global consumer marketing at Levi's Strauss, credited the app with a 300% increase in chatter, an unprecedented number for the brand, she said at the time. In May Dockers held a pitch for its digital creative account but decided not to award any of the contending agencies. Instead, it consolidated all of its digital media business with OMD.

Jones Lundin Beals is running the review. The search consultant referred all calls to the client.

Separately, Levi's is evaluating its chief marketing officer role. Jaime Cohen Szulc, the company's first global CMO, left the company last month. He is now president-Latin America at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. In the interim, Larry Ruff, chief strategy officer, has assumed responsibility for the brand's global marketing strategies and initiatives, a spokesman said. Earlier this month, a spokesman said a search for a replacement had not begun and today a spokeswoman said there "was nothing more to share at this time on a CMO."

Late in 2008, Levi's tapped Wieden & Kennedy to handle its creative account in the Americas. The spokeswoman said no changes were under way on the creative side of the business. Wieden was responsible for the global "Go Forth" campaign, launched last summer.

"Nothing has changed on the creative side," the spokeswoman said. "W&K is the agency of record for Levi's Americas and we continue to evaluate the most strategic global solutions for our marketing and advertising campaigns around the world."

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