Work Was Handled by Foote Cone & Belding

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Levi Strauss & Co. has begun a search for a design shop to develop what has been the key marketing elements in the launch of its lower-priced
Levi Strauss Signature line in discount stores: point-of-sale and in-store displays.

FCB work
During the summer, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding Worldwide, San Francisco, agency for Levi Strauss' Dockers brand, had developed materials for the launch of the discount line, along with spots that were shown on the Premier Retail Network, the in-store TV network that runs in Wal-Mart.

A Levi Strauss Signature spokesman said FCB would continue as the brand's agency for overall marketing strategy and media.

At press time, an FCB spokesman said he was unable to determine if the agency would participate in the review.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty, 49% owned by Publicis Groupe, is agency of record for Levi Strauss' Levi's jeans line sold through department and specialty stores.

Key to turnaround efforts
Although Levi Strauss is betting heavily on the discount line for its turnaround, analysts and retail experts believed the muted launch was intended to avoid cannibalizing sales of Levi Strauss' higher-priced jeans sold through non-discount channels.

A Levi Strauss Signature spokesman said contenders in the review have yet to be selected and a decision would be made over the "next couple of months." He said, "We're defining our needs now." He also declined to discuss the size of the account in play. Sherri Phillips, vice president of marketing for Levi Strauss Signature, is conducting the review, he said.

The review comes as Levi Strauss is set to roll out the line at Target and other discounters internationally later this year and next year. The struggling jeans maker has pinned its hopes for a rebound on the Signature brand, which sells for about $23, less than the $30 price tag other Levi lines sell for at department stores, but much more than the $9 Wal-Mart charges for some of its private label George line.

Declining sales reported
Levi Strauss has not reported specifics of Levi Strauss Signature sales, but CEO Phil Marineau in October told the investment community that sales of the discount line were helping put Levi Strauss on track for a long-awaited turnaround. Last week, however, Levi Strauss said full-year net sales are expected to fall 6% to 7% on a constant-currency basis, down from previous expectations of flat sales, plus or minus 2%. Overall, if exchange rates remain stable, full year net sales are expected to drop 2% to 3%, the company said.

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