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Dockers, seeking to become more urban than suburban, is shifting the bulk of its marketing dollars into an array of promotional activities ranging from sponsoring film festivals to giving "visionaries" a free pair of khakis.

The "urban networking" program debuted in San Francisco, and is slated to hit Chicago and Los Angeles next spring and New York and Boston in the fall of 1999.


Levi Strauss & Co. plans to put 65% of its 1998 Dockers marketing budget behind the urban efforts, said Amy Rosenthal, Dockers senior marketing specialist.

The promotional push comes on the heels of a new $50 million-plus national ad campaign for the khakis, tagged "One leg at a time" and created by Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco. Last year, Dockers spent $25 million in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The urban market is a big contributor to booming khakis sales. More than 126 million pairs of khakis were sold in the U.S. in 1997, up 12% from '96, which in turn was up 22% from '95, Ms. Rosenthal said. About one-third of all khakis sales are made in the top 10 urban markets, where the men's segment has grown at three times the national rate.

Dockers leads the men's khakis market with a 26% share, but rival Gap is aggressively trying to cut into that dominance with a $20 million-plus global campaign that broke last month for its fashion khakis (AA, April 20).

Dockers' urban networking program in San Francisco began with sponsorship of festivals of independent films, such as the Dockers Khakis Classically Independent Film Festival June 5 to 9.

In connection with the film sponsorship, Dockers will have a crew projecting clips from movies in the festival onto buildings in hip locales. Dockers also will sponsor a group of local actors performing scenes from the films at locations throughout the Bay area. Three local filmmakers will create trailers for the festival, and those trailers will be projected in the outdoor events. Bar and club promotions linked to the film festival also are scheduled.


In another effort, Dockers enlisted Design School students from the Academy of Art College to create restaurant workers' uniforms using Dockers pants as the basis of the outfit. Four hip restaurants will use the designs for one year.

To advance its urban agenda, Dockers created the new job of "urban networker," charged with identifying and reaching urban trendsetting consumers.

Taking that title is Mo Clancy, who identified 100 San Francisco "visionaries" -- such as Harmon Leon, an extreme sports enthusiast; Omar Sosa, Afro-Cuban musical performer; and Halsey Minor, CEO of CNET -- who were each given a package with a free pair of pants, free magazine subscriptions and other gifts worth about $75.

Urban promotions in other cities will be tied to different activities, possibly including sports or other endeavors identified by the urban networker as a place to reach the company's 24-to-35-year-old target.

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