Deutsch poised to gain $30 mil Hilfiger account

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Tommy Hilfiger USA has tapped Deutsch to create its first Super Bowl commercial, a move seen as a prelude to awarding its $30 million creative account to the New York agency.

A Hilfiger spokeswoman confirmed Deutsch will handle the Super Bowl ad, but said a decision on the account review is still a few weeks away.

Deutsch executives declined comment, but Deutsch appears to be the only agency left in the review. It, DDB Needham Worldwide and Cliff Freeman & Partners, also New York, presented for the AOR assignment at the beginning of December. DDB Needham was eliminated two weeks ago, and an executive close to Freeman said that agency withdrew from the search, although another executive close to the review said it is still in the running.

Incumbent Toth Design & Advertising, Concord, Mass. has been eliminated.

"I don't play the horses, but it wouldn't surprise me if Donny were named," said Toth Chairman Michael Toth, referring to Deutsch CEO Donny Deutsch. "The work we have done for Tommy has been very rewarding. Now we can do that for others."

Toth will handle creative for spring and summer 1998, including the launch of fragrance Hilfiger Athletics, which will use the children of athletes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving.

TIES TO DEUTSCH<P>

Hilfiger Senior VP-Global Marketing Peter Connolly has a longstanding relationship with Deutsch.

Mr. Connolly, who joined Hilfiger last March, is a former marketing director for Deutsch client Ikea. Deutsch also did project work for Mr. Connolly during a brief stint at Polo Ralph Lauren. He did not return calls at press time.

Hilfiger has become a sizzling marketing success in recent years. Sales have risen from $107 million in 1992 to $662 million for the fiscal year ended March 31; that figure represented a 38.5% jump over fiscal 1996.

In mid-November, the 13-year-old company opened a flagship store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills carrying the entire Hilfiger line, including men's and women's clothing, accessories, and fragrances. A home furnishings line will be launched in June.

ALL-AMERICAN IMAGE

Hilfiger's advertising has always had a fresh-scrubbed, all-American image. This year, ads from Toth featured twentysomething children of celebrities talking about the brand.

Hilfiger also signed with the William Morris Agency in November to develop music, TV, film, publishing and electronic media projects to extend its brand across a wide range of media.

New York consultancy Advertising Agency Register sent out questionnaires on behalf of Hilfiger to agencies in November. Media buying will continue to be handled by PGR Media, Providence, R.I.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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