Buntin Wins Friedman’s Creative Review

ATLANTA Friedman’s has hired The Buntin Group to handle the creative part of the company’s advertising following a review, the shop said.

The incumbent, independent Richmond, Va., shop Barber Martin, defended.

The Buntin Group, an independent Nashville, Tenn., shop, will produce primarily broadcast ads for the Savannah, Ga.-based, jewelry retailer. The company creates its print advertising internally. Media Solutions of Atlanta buys media for the company.

Friedman’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, citing “short-term liquidity issues.” It also is being sued in three states for allegedly using deceptive tactics in the way it charged customers for insurance. According to the lawsuits, Friedman’s added charges to retail contracts for life, credit disability and property insurance that totaled about $46.7 million between 1998 and 2002.

Since the bankruptcy filing, the company has closed about 165 stores in 17 states, dropping its total number of retail locations to 450 in 20 states. The company also has a new senior management team.

The Buntin Group plans to change the retailer’s marketing strategy from promoting its credit business to promoting the quality of its jewelry, according to Leland Kass, an agency spokesperson.

Billings were not disclosed, but the company spent $15 million on advertising last and $3 million during the first four months of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The agency said it does not expect a marked change in the retailer’s advertising budget.