Despite Coming Up Short For Pier 1, Loomis Isn’t Defeated

For The Loomis Agency, Pier 1 represented a tantalizing prospect: a chance to double billings with a single account and leap onto the national stage with work that could attract more high-profile clients.

And while the review ultimately didn’t go their way, executives at the 5-year-old Dallas independent said the experience was a valuable one. “This is certainly the next level, and we plan to be there again,” said shop president Mike Sullivan.

The home-furnishings retailer’s estimated $60 million account would have doubled Loomis’ billings. The agency gave the contest its all, spending $30,000 on its pitch—far more than it has previously spent on a single new-business effort, execs said. But Pier 1 ultimately went with Interpublic Group’s Deutsch in New York over Loomis and three other finalists: Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in New York and Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, and independent Laird + Partners in New York.

While Pier 1 would have dwarfed the rest of Loomis’ accounts—the shop’s largest remains Dairy Queen franchise work that bills about $10 million—it got into the review because of its work for Pier 1’s estimated $3 million Cargokids business, the client said. The shop’s most recent ads for the children’s-furniture brand show kids with the products to convey their durability and affordability. “Loomis has been a great partner for Cargokids,” said client rep Merianne Roth. “We wanted them to be included.”

In its Sept. 24 presentation, Loomis proposed a campaign built around the theme, “Seek the unique,” Sullivan said. “Unique is the sweet spot,” he noted. “Big-box retailers like Target can’t go there.” The agency showed a video—backed by a new-age soundtrack produced at Loomis’ Luminous Sound Studio—that featured images representing the exotic origins of Pier 1 merchandise. Storyboards creatively used the products to capture viewers’ attention. In one, a table, chair and glassware seen from above mimic a ladybug, dissolving into a real one that lands on a girl’s finger.

The strong presence of music in Loomis’ pitch is not surprising. CEO Paul Loomis, 52, a Grammy-nominated composer and musician who has worked with stars such as Ella Fitzgerald and Whitney Houston, began his advertising career in the 1980s writing jingles at shops such as IPG’s Temerlin McClain and Omnicom Group’s TracyLocke for clients like Subaru and Pepsi, respectively.

His biggest break came in 1990, when he wrote songs and produced records for local rap artist Robbie Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice. Loomis used the windfall from Ice’s success to transform his home studio into the state-of-the-art facility now called Luminous Sound, where performers such as Jessica Simpson and Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child have recorded.

He formed The Loomis Agency in 1999, merging Loomis Production with Mark Sullivan’s Sullivan Herndon agency. Sullivan, 43, who is unrelated to president Mike Sullivan, 39, is ecd and partner.

Since its launch, the shop, which has 49 staffers, has seen billings grow 170 percent to roughly $60 million, according to the agency. Other accounts won in the past year include Palm Beach Tan.

“We have a really serious music company here, and … a really serious ad agency,” said Loomis. “I’m enjoying living in both spaces.”