DIESEL TAPS LOWE AGENCY AS FOCUS TURNS TO PRODUCT: JEANS MARKETER TO SHIFT FROM ITS QUIRKY ADS

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[london] A marathon account review finally came to an end last week when Italian jeans marketer Diesel moved most, if not all, of its $30 million worldwide account to Lowe Howard-Spink.

Longtime Diesel agency Paradiset DDB Needham Worldwide, Stockholm, is keeping TV work, seen as a way of avoiding firing the shop. However, no TV is planned for next year.

Diesel will continue to do its own media planning and buying, said Jeremy Bowles, Lowe director of account management.

6-MONTH REVIEW

The decision came more than six months and 22 agencies after Diesel Advertising Director Maurizio Marchiori said the company wanted to change its communications strategy to be more product-oriented.

Diesel's next move will be two product-oriented print campaigns, to break early next year, for Diesel jeans and for the company's high-fashion clubwear, Mr. Bowles said.

"Paradiset did quirky, ironic lifestyle ads with people wearing [Diesel] clothes, but the clothes played a supporting role," Mr. Bowles said. "They happened to be wearing Diesel."

CREATED BRAND AWARENESS

However, Diesel's ironic, irreverent advertising has succeeded brilliantly in creating brand awareness of a previously unknown jeans and accessories marketer.

In fact, halfway through the review, Diesel won the Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes for two bizarre spots by Paradiset DDB, featuring Boy Scouts learning mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and a dawn duel in which the good guy in the Diesel jeans is the one who, shockingly, dies.

Last month, Diesel broke Paradiset DDB's swan song-built around a trip to North Korea, with ironic images of waiflike Western models in the impoverished country (AA, Aug. 25).

Diesel has jumped in size from $4 million in sales in 1985 to $325 million last year, and has expanded its product line to areas including eyewear and fragrances, plus clothing lines for hot sports such as snowboarding and jet skiing.

"They wanted someone who understood how to move the Diesel franchise forward," said Paul Hammersley, managing director of Lowe. "The existing campaign is wonderful but it's time to move on."

He said Mr. Marchiori functions virtually as a creative director for the informally organized Diesel.

Mr. Marchiori, who studied textiles and manufacturing but spent 15 years in sales and marketing at state-owned Telecom, gradually narrowed his original long list of agencies to a handful of European shops before the final shoot-out between Lowe and GGT. He could not be tracked down while visiting the U.K. last

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