Hilfiger has designs on Deutsch

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Seventh Avenue shook up Madison Avenue as Tommy Hilfiger USA awarded Deutsch, New York, an estimated $60 million in spending without a review.

Deutsch last week picked up about 70% of Hilfiger's business after AG, New York, resigned the account. Deutsch will oversee creative and planning for men's and women's sportswear, eyeglasses, handbags and socks.

Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners will continue to handle Hilfiger's jeans, kids apparel, home products, golf apparel, and men's and women's underwear lines. PGR Media, Providence, R.I., retains media buying.


Deutsch Chairman-CEO Donny Deutsch said Hilfiger was looking for a larger agency that could handle more extensive branding plans. Mr. Deutsch added the fashion marketer "wants to get more and more into broadcast."

Deutsch Senior VP-Group Creative Director Craig Markus will be the lead creative on the account. The agency expects to break new work in December.

Deutsch has worked with Hilfiger in the past. In December 1997, the shop was tapped to create a Super Bowl ad for the client. Mr. Deutsch also has a longstanding relationship with Peter Connolly, exec VP of Tommy Hilfiger USA, who had worked at Deutsch client Ikea.


Hilfiger has infiltrated teen closets worldwide with its red, white and blue logo by latching onto the popularity of entertainers. Two spring 1999 campaigns featured the Rolling Stones pitching Hilfiger's sportswear and teen popster Britney Spears touting Tommy Jeans. The fall campaign showcases rocker Lenny Kravitz and singer Jewel.

Hilfiger moved approximately $25 million in billings from AG in May, when it hired Kirshenbaum to handle the jeans and kids lines. AG's last work for those lines broke in August, when Hilfiger launched a girls clothing line and a new Tommy Jeans campaign.

"I really believe where we're going and where they wanted to go are two different places," said AG Chairman Peter Arnell. "They want an ad agency and that's not what we want to be."

AG recently changed its name from Arnell Group Brand Consulting and shifted its focus away from executing ads. AG also is negotiating with a potential client that would have posed a conflict with Hilfiger, said an executive close to the situation. That deal is said to include branding, licensing and product development, plus an equity stake in the manufacturer.

Industry executives estimate Hilfiger will spend about $90 million in advertising during 1999. Ad spending is expected to shoot up in 2000 for the launch of the juniors' line Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger and a women's career sportswear line, tentatively called Hilfiger.


Still undecided was the assignment for the estimated $20 million fragrance business under a licensing agreement with Estee Lauder Cos.

Hilfiger in recent years has added kids and infant lines, as well as licensed out home fashions, underwear and shoes.

Contributing: Mercedes M. Cardona, Beth Snyder

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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