DOCKERS AIMS TO EQUAL JEANS SALES: LEVI STRAUSS SETS $50 MIL CAMPAIGN SEEKING YOUNGER BUYERS FOR BRAND

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Levi Strauss & Co. breaks a new $50 million-plus advertising effort this week for its Dockers, a brand executives said is poised to equal the revenues of its flagship jeans business in as few as three years.

The creative, from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, is tagged "One leg at a time" and replaces the "Nice Pants" campaign that ran for three years.

NEW TARGETING

Advertising is targeted at males ages 25 to 34, a younger consumer than the brand's traditional customers.

The campaign is running on CBS-TV's NCAA Basketball Championship Playoffs and on a number of NBC prime-time shows.

Robert Hanson, VP-marketing, Dockers Brand USA, said the strategy also calls for out-of-home media and guerrilla marketing tactics, as well as an increased presence in movies via product placement deals.

Mr. Hanson said Levi Strauss expects its Dockers division, with sales of more than $1 billion wholesale in the U.S. alone, to grow 10% to 12% over the next three to four years.

"By the year 2002, it will be equal to jeans," he said.

The company said Dockers is the best-selling brand of men's pants in the U.S., with more than 150 million pairs sold since its introduction in 1986. For all brands, more than 126 million pairs of khakis were sold in the U.S. in 1997, Levi Strauss' data show, and indications are the market will grow 39% by 2000.

26% MARKET SHARE

Currently, Dockers has a 26% market share of khakis, up 1 point from last year, and more than double the share of its closest competitors, Mr. Hanson said.

Mr. Hanson expects growth to come from Gen Xers and echo boomers. He said the new generation wants their clothing "to be integrated seamlessly from work to play."

Despite the success of Dockers, Levi Strauss reported global sales of $6.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Nov. 30, 1997, down 4% from 1996 record sales of $7.1 billion. North American sales in 1997 were $4.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the Levi's jeans division is preparing to launch the first advertising from new agency TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.

Levi Strauss plans to move from TV to print, outdoor and interactive media, plus music sponsorships, PR and guerrilla marketing efforts.

Although the new Levi's campaign will be without a traditional tagline, it will focus on Levi Strauss' authenticity as the original jeans brand. A number of the executions are expected to have the tag "Real jeans."

DISTINCTIVE LOOK

Just as The Gap is known by ads with a white background containing its blue logo, some of the new TBWA work will try a white background with the Levi's red logo.

At the same time, Levi Strauss is moving to more effectively compete with designer labels, such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, by adding a new campaign to support its upscale Silver Tab line and by withdrawing from some discount retailers, said an executive familiar with the plan.

Already, Levi Strauss has increased the price of its jeans by $5 a pair at some retailers.

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