L.L. Bean Remembers Its Roots

Martin/Williams continues efforts to set L.L. Bean apart from its rivals by stressing the retailer’s longevity and family ownership in a new television spot tied to the company’s 90th year.

“Competitors have come and gone,” says a voiceover after the Freeport, Maine, company’s 90th anniversary is noted. “But none have matched L.L. Bean’s commitment to quality.”

“It really presents consumers with a choice,” said John Karlson, senior vice president of strategic development at the Minneapolis agency. “Bean has a different way of dealing with customers, over the long term as opposed to the short term.”

The spot, which breaks Sept. 15 during network news telecasts and on national cable networks, mixes old photographs of the company’s first store and early workers with new footage of fishing products and customers being served at Bean’s Freeport store. Onscreen text highlights words such as “quality,” “family” and “guarantee.”

Absent is the company’s tagline of the last several years, “Start here. Go anywhere.”

“We thought [the tag] would be an extra message in a spot where there’s already a lot going on,” Karlson said. He declined to comment on whether the tagline would resurface in future advertising.

M/W has focused on the client’s heritage in previous ads, including Bean’s first national TV effort last year. That work featured founder Leon Leonwood Bean and the principles upon which he founded his company.

The new TV spot arrives in the midst of transition. Bean president Chris McCormick has revamped the company’s catalog, altering certain clothing lines and eliminating others. The firm is also looking to build its retail presence in malls.

Despite those issues, the commercial is intended to show the company has not lost sight of its core values. “There’s definitely a message to the consumer that you can count on L.L. Bean,” said M/W account supervisor Julie Lenz.

Annual billings have been estimated at $15-20 million.