Lowe wins Diesel business worldwide

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LONDON -- A marathon account review finally came to an end this week when Italian jeans marketer Diesel decided to move most, if not all, of its $30m worldwide account to Lowe Howard-Spink, London, part of the Lowe Group.

The other finalist was GGT, London. Diesel's long- time agency, Paradiset DDB, Stockholm, is keeping TV work, seen as a way of avoiding firing the agency as no TV is planned for next year.

The decision came more than six months and 22 agencies after Maurizio Marchiori, Diesel's advertising director, said the company wanted to change its communications strategy to be more product-oriented.

Jeremy Bowles, Lowe's director of account management, said Diesel's next move will be two product-oriented print campaigns from Lowe for Diesel jeans and the company's high fashion clubwear brand, breaking in early 1998.

"Paradiset did quirky, ironic lifestyle ads with people wearing [Diesel] clothes but the clothes played a supporting role," he says. "They happened to be wearing Diesel."

Diesel will continue to do its own media planning and buying, Bowles says.

Until now, Diesel's ironic, irreverent advertising has succeeded brilliantly in creating brand awareness for a previously unknown jeans and accessories marketer. Diesel has jumped in size from sales of $4m in 1985 to $325m last year but remains based in the Italian village of Molvena in the country's cherry-growing region.

In fact, halfway through the review Diesel won the Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France, for two bizarre commercials by Paradiset DDB, one featuring boy scouts learning mouth- to-mouth resuscitation and the other a dawn duel in which the good guy in the Diesel jeans is the one who, shockingly, dies.

Last month, Diesel's fall campaign - and Paradiset DDB's swan song - broke, built around a trip to North Korea, with ironic images of waiflike Western models in the impoverished country.

Diesel has over the years expanded its product base, which now ranges from eyewear to fragrance to clothing lines for hot sports such as snowboarding and jet skiing.

"They wanted someone who understood how to move the Diesel franchise forward," says Paul Hammersley, managing director of Lowe Howard- Spink. "The existing campaign is wonderful but it's time to move on."

He says Marchiori functions virtually as a creative director for the informally-organized but fast-moving Diesel. Marchiori, who studies textiles and manufacturing but spent 15 years in sales and marketing at state-owned Telecom, gradually narrowed his original long list of agencies to a handful of European shops before the final shoot-out between Lowe and GGT. He could not be tracked down while visiting the U.K. this week to attend London Fashion Week.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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