Richard Pinder’s new-style network The House Worldwide has scored a major coup by being appointed alongside Interpublic’s Draftfcb to handle the iconic (not an exaggeration in this case) Levi’s account. Levi’s departed Wieden+Kennedy last year.
Quite why Levi’s needs two agencies on its business is a bit of a mystery but Draftfcb is much stronger in the US than other markets and Pinder’s network promises to bring the best talent worldwide to work on big accounts. The House Worldwide already works for Laurent Perrier.
The move is a coup for Draftfcb too, which is showing signs of a startling renaissance under new boss Carter Murray. FCB, which IPG later merged with direct marketer Draft to mixed reviews, handled Levi’s from the 1920s to 90s.
Pinder (left), a Brit, is a former senior Publicis Groupe executive and The House’s partner agencies include Digital Luxury Group, CumminsRoss and ChinaMadrid. Such international networks of indies have been tried in the past (and mostly failed) but maybe in the era of big agency rosters (Coca-Cola and Mondelez for example) and the formation of team this and that by the holding companies, big clients are finally moving to a more flexible system, as Pinder hopes.
Levi’s CMO Jen Sey says: “We are very excited about this new model. We’re getting hand-picked creative talent from Draftfcb and The House networks at both the global and local market level. This model will provide us with the efficiency and consistency we need as a global brand as well as the means to drive relevance around the world by accessing top-notch local talent when we need it.”
The two agencies (if such they be) will form a joint account team with Draftfcb’s Dominic Whittles in charge of the US and Pinder other markets.
Levi’s has struggled in recent years, caught between the fashion brands at the top of the market and much cheaper competitors below. One problem globally has been that much of its advertising and marketing has been highly US-centric – viz W+K’s ‘Go forth’ campaign – and telling the rest of the world you’re the original American denim is not a great sell these days.
So Levi’s should maybe be congratulated for departing from the one-American-agency-fits-all model that most of the big US advertisers cling to.