Replacing 'stampede': BBH names global minder for Levi's biz

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Levi's president-CEO Phil Marineau, who panned one of Bartle Bogle Hegarty's spots just last month, this week gave the agency a vote of confidence. But BBH is taking no chances, appointing a global overseer to the Levi's account to ensure it maintains a good rapport with its flagship client.

In an interview, Mr. Marineau said that despite his critical comments to Wall Street about the agency's Super Bowl spot for Levi's Type One jeans (AA, March 31), he had every faith in his network. "BBH has been a long-time advertising agency for Levi Strauss," he said. "It's created great advertising over many years. We have absolute confidence in BBH as a U.S., European and Asian agency."

teething troubles

Nonetheless, he conceded that there have been teething troubles in the States. "On both sides we're going through normal growing pains of a new agency coming on in the U.S."

With those challenges in mind, Bartle Bogle has created a new role on the account, promoting Derek Robson to global director on the Levi Strauss business from business director in charge of Levi's Europe. Mr. Robson will be based in London, and his first task is to ensure that the replacement for "Stampede," the spot that was panned by Mr. Marineau, is a hit.

Two commercials for Type One jeans are in production. Mr. Robson said they are "different in tonality from where we were with `Stampede.' " He denied that his appointment was a direct result of problems with the client: "If we were reacting to a problem in the U.S., we would do something more apparent than this."

Mr. Robson will join Levi's global brand management team, which meets quarterly. "BBH is a key strategic partner," he said. "My job is bigger than just the next round of advertising-I'm not another layer of management, although I will be informally involved in most of the creative work.

"It's all about getting closer to Levi's global brand agenda," he added. "Levi's is a global brand that acts locally. A lot of the work they do on a regional basis comes from one global platform."

For example, all three creative executions of the Type One launch-for Europe, the U.S. and Asia-came from the same "bold" strategic premise.

"The U.S. is the most important market and the one where the brand has the most problems," Mr. Robson said. "We need to do great work here. We have learned from `Stampede' and we are using that to build on what we are doing now. We know there are improvements we can make and we are making them."

Simon Sherwood, chief operating officer, BBH Group, said, "Levi's is good at communicating as a company and is looking for greater efficiencies between regions. We have three regional account teams, but they needed something above that. I don't anticipate any other changes at all."

Mr. Robson joined Bartle Bogle in 1992 as a planner and took charge of Levi's European account in 1998 as group business director. He has worked on some of the denim giant's most memorable European campaigns, including the award-winning "Twist" and "Odyssey" commercials.

new strategic planner

Separately, the Publicis Groupe-backed agency announced that Emma Cookson, strategic planning director of Bartle Bogle, New York, will become global head of strategic planning. She succeeds Nick Kendall, who takes on the role of group strategy director.

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