Fuming Contenders Call Agency Review a ‘Travesty’
NEW YORK–Candie’s will keep its estimated $25 million account with current shop InMarketing and its in-house ad team, a decision which has infuriated the agencies that competed for the business.
Contenders knew the winner would have to work with InMarketing principal Dari Marder and her Glen Cove, N.Y., shop, but thought she was functioning as a review consultant or “brand steward.”
“If we had known we were up against the in-house agency, whose creative director sat in on every meeting we had with them, we wouldn’t have pitched the business,” said a Representative of finalist Spike/DDB in New York.
“This has been a travesty this pitch was nothing more than an idea-hunting expedition. They misrepresented Dari Marder’s role. It was the worst example of disrespect for agencies I’ve ever seen,” said a source at another finalist.
“I really thought that they were hustling us,” said a third source, who suspected the client would never award the account.
Agencies were well aware of the situation, Marder responded. “It was never my business to be taken away From day one, we explained my relationship to Candie’s [to the agencies],” she said. “I’m as close to in-house as a creative person can be.”
Neil Cole, chief executive of Candie’s, defended the decision: “We had all intentions of going with [an agency]. We didn’t think of going in-house” until the final stages of the review. “We didn’t get the response we were hoping for” from the work that was presented, he said. However, “there’s a possibility we could be working with all of [the finalists] in some capacity” in the future.
DiMassimo, New York, was asked to do an undetermined creative assignment for a non-Candie’s brand, possibly Bongo jeans or the new DV8 footwear line, Cole said.
“Very few agencies can even do fashion, so what’s a client to do?” said principal Mark DiMassimo of the choice not to tap a lead shop. The other finalist was Avrett, Free & Ginsberg here, which referred calls to the client.
While losing agencies might be accused of sour grapes, contenders had privately voiced suspicions about the pitch throughout the four-month review. Sources characterized the process as “weird” and disorganized, with shops unsure of their standing [Adweek, Nov. 23, 1998]. Two New York boutiques believed they were contenders for the business and had to retract statements after receiving embarrassing phone calls from the Purchase, N.Y., client.
Separately, Candie’s will launch a campaign this spring featuring a TV spot with singer Brandy. A print ad with country-rock band the Dixie Chicks will break in magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Seventeen. All the ads were created in-house. –with Justin Dini and Hank Kim