Burlington Coat Taps C-K, Initiative

NEW YORK Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse has confirmed awarding creative duties to independent Cramer-Krasselt and media planning and buying to Interpublic’s Initiative after a review. Both pitched from their New York offices.

Burlington’s major traditional media spend totaled $60 million last year and nearly $75 million in 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Commenting on the winners, Burlington CMO Garry Graham said of C-K, “We were looking for an organization that could think creatively and appreciated how they got to their creative ideas, the process of the research they brought to bear. We felt strongly we were entering into a partnership that will be a long-term relationship.” In addition, said Graham, the client and C-K teams “clicked and worked well together and the cultures meshed.”

Initiative, which had been the buying incumbent, adds planning chores to its scope of work, which had previously been handled in-house. Commenting on the IPG shop, Graham said, “It was a true review, and there was no preconceived notion that they would stay. The changes that have taken place there over the past year or so and Tim Spengler ascending to [U.S] president of the organization and him taking a personal and very involved approach to the review” helped their cause. “They have a lot of new talent there and they brought it to bear and really impressed us with a new fresh look at our business from a media aspect.”

Finalists were selected in March. They were: The Kaplan Thaler Group (which pitched with media shop MediaVest); independent ML Rogers (which teamed with Horizon); and Gardner Nelson + Partners (which chased the business with TargetCast). All of those shops are independents, except for Kaplan and MediaVest, which are owned by Publicis Groupe.

Initiative made its media pitch alone. C-K pursued both creative and media.

Ark Advisors, New York, managed the pitch.

Earlier contenders not advancing to the final round included MDC Partners’ Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York and Havas’ Euro RSCG in Chicago.

For several years, Sheer Advertising in South Orange, N.J., handled creative duties for the client, but that shop closed in late 2007, resulting in those chores moving in-house.

Besides coats, Burlington sells apparel, shoes and accessories at some 395 stores in 44 states. Bain Capital acquired the retailer in 2006, taking the company private in a deal valued at $2.1 billion.