The Birth, Life And Death Of L'eggs Pantyhose - Peter Levitan & Co. (2024)

Peter and Mike,

I have sat on this for several weeks now so as not to express a purely emotional response. Mike, I found your portrayal of the South Carolina based management team who launched L’Eggs both condescending and insulting.

I started at L’Eggs in 1976 and worked on various brands including the successful launch of Sheer Elegance. I left Hanes in 1980 to work at Johnson & Johnson and returned in 1985 to work on the relaunch of Hanes Underwear and the evolution of the Hanes Underwear into a Mega brand extending into women’s panties and bras men’s and women’s Active wear casual wear and more.

I returned to the L’eggs division in 1993 to take on the challenge of turning around a brand that was beginning to decline in a category (Sheer Hosiery) which was declining far more perspicaciously. The reason for the category drop off was clear– women no longer had to wear dresses and skirts to work. Both of you guys are old enough to remember casual Fridays that eventually led to a fully casual workplace. With women wearing pants and jeans to work, the need for sheer hosiery declined rapidly and the sheer hosiery category began a rapid decline.

Paul Fulton , the first L’eggs CEO assembled a team of Management talent that came from fortune 50 companies in many industries. The original Marketing team was made up almost excursively of MBA talent from the finest schools in America many of whom had package goods experience at first class companies marketing companies like P&G, General Mills, Lever Brothers. He also assembled great marketing specialist firms to help guide our efforts in Advertising (DFS ) Package Design (Martin Marona, display design and production (Howard Display), Public Relations ( Fleishman-Hillard)and yarn innovators (DuPont and Unifi). Most importantly, Paul knew how to surround himself with great advisers,listen to their advise and follow it when it made solid strategic sense. That is what made L’eggs successful.

So let’s be clear, no one involved in the early stages of the L’eggs development was waiting around for you Advertising hot shots from NY to tell us what to do as you implied in this podcast.

A phenomenon like L’Eggs could not possibly have happened without the solid strategic focus on the entire Marketing Mix– not just advertising. The corporate decision to shift advertising away from sheer hosiery to other higher potential opportunities in the mid to late 90’s was a difficult but based on solid strategic logic. That decision that allowed the corporation to expand our position in categories with real growth potential.
That is corporate strategy straight out of the Jack Welsh /General Electric playbook.

Finally, one quick note on the Advertising we did on L’Eggs. The assertion that Rockets or the ZZ Top executions had anything to do with the establishment of the L’Eggs brand identity is ludicrous. Those executions ran nearly 2 decades after the the introductory campaign Mike referenced in the podcast. They followed some incredibly campaigns like a celebrity campaign that featured Juliet Prose ( As a dancer, my legs are my fortune), and the animated Sheer Energy problem-solution campaign that positioned Sheer Energy as “energizing hosiery” well differentiated from the stodgy support hosiery available at the time.

Mike, the one thing you said that I agree with whole heartily was your acknowledgement of the contribution of Gary Susenjara to the development of the L’Eggs business. You took credit for introducing Gary to DFS management but let’s be real. DFS was the one Agency back in those “Mad Men”days that respected diversity. Gary was nothing like the lily white, prep school, country club Agency guys at the other big NY firms like BBDO and Y& R. He was hired I am sure because the senior team knew instinctively he could relate to the country bumpkins in South Carolina.But his ultimate value was his ability to immerse himself in all aspects of our business.In addition to being absolutely brilliant strategically,he took the time to get to know everybody at all levels and in every functional areas of the company.

As you can imagine after a 30 + year of marketing career, I have tons of memorabilia from my corporate days at Hanes and Johnson and Johnson. But the one thing that is most precious to me is a little hand written note I got from Gary when I was promoted from Brand Assistant to Assistant Product Manager on Sheer Energy. It said simply…”John, congratulation on your promotion. Welcome to where the action is”. Imagine, an APM getting a note from the Management Supervisor of his Agency.

What exactly do you think he would say if he saw this podcast and the condescending tone concerning client management it portrayed. To say he would be disappointed and embarrassed would be a major understatement.

Peter, since you have taken it upon yourself to educate the next generation of leaders in the Advertising world, tell them if they want to be effective at guiding their clients decision making, they must must first establish credibility. They better know their clients business inside- out. Learn to think strategically. Be confident but humble. And like Gary, someday they may rise to be president of a huge Agency like DFS.

I would be happy to disuses this with either of you further. You have my email address. I am happy to set up a phone discussion if you like. I’m pretty sure you won’t take me up on that offer.

John Ceneviva
Professor of Management
The Bryan School of Business
University of North Carolina -Greensboro

PS HanesBrands is in North Carolina not South Carolina.

The Birth, Life And Death Of L'eggs Pantyhose - Peter Levitan & Co. (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated:

Views: 6391

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.