$50 Mil. Banana Republic Switches to aR Media

NEW YORK Banana Republic, a division of Gap Inc., has appointed aR Media here as its lead creative agency without a review, the client said.

Account billings were not disclosed. The company spent $50 million on ads in 2004 and $25 million through the first nine months of 2005, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Banana Republic in January 2004 tapped Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco for ads. Independent aR was a runner-up in that competition, and the client’s familiarity with aR’s work dating back to that contest led to the switch without a review, said Jack Calhoun, executive vice president of marketing at Banana Republic.

“AR really is an expert in doing ads for apparel brands,” Calhoun said. “They have strong fashion [expertise] and creative leadership.”

Banana Republic launched a 2005 holiday campaign with stories designed to capture the season’s magical emotions. The print effort, via Goodby, broke in December books and shared tales such as “Lost Mitten,” “R.S.V.P.” and “Snow, Inc.” The ads, incorporating Banana Republic products into the storylines, directed consumers to a flash-animated Web site, Holidaystory.com, where the tales continued.

AR’s first work for the retailer, which will break in August publications for the fall season, will take a new approach from the storytelling imagery of the past few seasons’ campaigns, the agency said.

“Spring ’06 represents a shift from where they have been, and we will evolve it from there with communication that is more simple and direct,” said Raul Martinez, CEO and executive creative director of aR, in a statement.

AR crafts campaigns for a number of fashion advertisers including Brioni, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Jones New York, House of Dereon and Valentino.