The finalists are BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles and New York; TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.; and DDB Needham Worldwide, San Francisco; as well as incumbent Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco; and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, the Levi's agency for Europe.
The shops on the list generally are well known for their creative work. The one surprise is DDB Needham's San Francisco office, which primarily is a package-goods shop.
The office was created in February 1996 to handle the $80 million Clorox Co. account when FCB was forced to resign the business-which it had had since 1925-because of a conflict created when FCB's Chicago office got the consolidated S.C. Johnson & Son account.
More than a dozen former FCB employees staffed the new DDB Needham unit, including veteran creative Ken Dudwick, now managing partner of the DDB Needham office.
The other managing partner is Dan Odishoo, formerly senior VP-group management supervisor on Clorox at FCB. Mr. Odishoo also had headed FCB's Pacific Telesis and Taco Bell accounts.
DDB Needham has picked up additional business, including Armor All automotive cleaning products, acquired by Clorox; as well as the $10 million to $15 million Bagel Bites account of H.J. Heinz Co.'s Ore-Ida unit.
As reported earlier, FCB has brought in Geoff Thompson, its worldwide creative director, to lead the Levi's pitch. Mr. Thompson, who was in FCB's San Francisco office for more than a dozen years, worked on several major Levi's campaigns, including "501 Blues" with the late Mike Koelker, and had a key role on the breakthrough "Jeans for Women" campaign using Matisse-like figures.
Mr. Thompson was called in to help in the pitch only days after FCB announced his move to London. It was unclear whether he would remain in San Francisco after the pitch if FCB was able to retain the account.
Steve Goldstein, VP-marketing and research for the Levi's brand in the U.S., declined to comment on the list, saying the company was working on it and would be "willing to share [it] by the end of the month."
Levi Strauss, under continuing pressure from private labels and designer jeans, last week announced it would close 11 U.S. manufacturing plants in four states, cutting its U.S. and Canadian work force by one-third, due to a drop in demand for its denim products.
The company, with a new top management team, had said it is re-evaluating all