DOCKERS TAILORS RETAIL AGENDA FOR EUROPEAN GROWTH:LEVI'S 501 SHOP BARTLE ADDS ACC'T DESIGNED TO GIVE BRAND HIGHER PROFILE

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[london] Levi Strauss & Co.'s Dockers brand is dressing up for Europe with a new marketing strategy for 1997 and plans for an expanded retail chain.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty, current agency for the company's 501 jeans, has clinched the multimillion-dollar pan-European account to turn Dockers into another household name.

Dockers was introduced in Europe in 1993 via Dockers Europe, a Levi's subsidiary based in Amsterdam. Garbergs Advertising, Stockholm, has been creating Dockers' brand-building ads, emphasizing that middle-age men need not force themselves into tight denim jeans to look casual and fashionable.

The Bartle account win coincides with the advertiser's ambitions to launch a Europe-wide retail chain and extend its men's pants portfolio to other clothing.

EURO EXPANSION

The stores, called Dockers & Co., have had pilot outlets in Amsterdam and Nice, France.

Ambitions include opening a second outlet in the Netherlands, another in Paris, followed by one in Scandinavia and then London, according to Sara Lattey, advertising and promotions manager in Dockers' London office.

Ms. Lattey said the investment involved still needs to be determined.

"At the moment, we're looking at a variety of [store] sizes. But the chain will have its own branding, integrity and design," she said.

Dockers & Co. outlets will stock mostly Dockers-branded clothing, which will soon include T-shirts and sweat shirts, and possibly women's attire.

`SEEING HOW THINGS GO'

Initially, the men's tops will be available only through selected non-Dockers retail outlets in Europe, starting this fall.

"It's a question of seeing how things go, and doing what we can do well first," Ms. Lattey said.

Garbergs' Dockers advertising was inspired by Mission magazine, produced by the agency for the Dockers campaign. The ads feature quotes from the magazine such as, "It's hard to be nice if you don't feel comfortable," and "How to prove you're a more efficient person if you wear casual pants," using all media apart from TV.

The agency's final campaign, running in 13 European countries this fall, is again Mission-influenced and, this time, accompanied by a publicity stunt.

"This fall, we're sending a pair of the [Dockers] pants in a brown package to world leaders in Europe," said Martin Gumpert, Garbergs' creative director. "On it, we've written `Relax, it's not a bomb; it's just a revolution.' "

There is a letter of introduction that also states, "You don't have to pay for them; you don't even have to iron them."

Although the Mission strategy has been a success, Mr. Gumpert said the U.S. parent company wanted to consolidate all advertising with a single agency.

Bartle declined to specify its plans for Dockers, but its first campaign is expected next spring.

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