Fila kicks off global review for $40 mil biz

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Italian athletic shoemaker Fila Holding has initiated a global review for its estimated $40 million account, and it's unclear whether its U.S. agency will participate.

Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, and its media-buying unit, Starcom Worldwide, were invited into the pitch, but may opt out.

Executives familiar with the situation said the agency is frustrated with management turnover at Fila, which has led to an inability to follow through on marketing decisions.


Burnett won Fila USA's creative and media business last September. Since then, management has shifted and the marketer has deflated its U.S. ad budget and cut fees, the executives said.

Fila's U.S. spending has dropped dramatically since 1997, when it spent $19.5 million on measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Fila USA spent $5.2 million last year and $2.4 million through May 1999.


Euro RSCG Worldwide and WPP Group's Conquest unit currently work for Fila internationally and could be asked to pitch. Doner, Southfield, Mich., also is a possibility since it has worked domestically for Fila in the past.

Alessandro De Pestel, Fila Holding's current VP-global advertising and promotion, took over just last month. He previously was VP-global advertising and public relations at Swatch Watch.

According to executives close to Fila, Mr. De Pestel is leading the charge to create a consistent global advertising message.

Executives at Burnett and Fila declined comment.

Burnett is said to have been invited into the global pitch last week, as its creative team huddled with Fila executives--including Fila USA President-Chief Operating Officer Jon Epstein--about the shoe marketer's spring marketing plans.


This month, Fila Holding reported second-quarter losses of $29.7 million vs. $58.8 million for the same period in 1998. Company executives expect earnings as well as revenues to improve in the coming periods.

Before Burnett, Arnell Group Brand Consulting, New York, now called AG, handled the U.S. work. When AG picked up the Tommy Hilfiger account in February 1998, it resigned Fila.

Prior to Arnell, Fila had been with Foote, Cone, Belding, New York, for four years.

Contributing: Beth Snyder

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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