Pier 1’s $45 Mil. Account in Play

High-End Retailer Previously Did Its Advertising In-House
CHICAGO–Tony home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports has begun a wide-ranging search for an agency to handle its $45 million ad account, sources said.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based company, through consultant Jones-Lundin Associates in Chicago, has sent out requests for proposals to a number of agencies, including several in the Midwest and South, according to sources.
The bare-bones questionnaire asks agencies to provide details about their high-end retail category experience and gives a deadline of Oct. 13 for responses, sources said.
Phil Schneider, Pier 1’s senior vice president of marketing, denied the company has sent out any proposal requests and indicated executives are still mulling a review.
“We haven’t made any decision on [holding] an agency review,” he said. “We are considering a number of relationships, such as marketing consultation.”
The chain, which sells furniture and accessories imported from more than 60 countries, currently handles its creative work in-house. Media buying is at Advanswers Media/Programming in St. Louis. It is not known if media is part of the review.
In March, Pier 1 launched a campaign anchored around the slogan, “So many reasons to love Pier 1.” The company spent $45 million on advertising in 1998 and about $31 million through the first six months of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The company far outspends its smaller category competitors, according to CMR figures.
Among those rivals are Williams-Sonoma, headquartered in San Francisco, which spent $6.5 million in 1998; Euromarket Designs in Northbrook, Ill., which put about $4 million behind its Crate & Barrel stores; and Bed, Bath & Beyond in Union, N.J., which also spent about $4 million last year.
Already a large home retailer, with more than 750 U.S. stores and more than 80 outlets abroad, Pier 1 continues an ambitious course of expansion. Six new stores were opened in September, and the company plans to have an additional 31 stores open by the end of its fiscal year in February.
The company last Thursday reported a year-to-date sales increase of 4.6 percent, from $631 million to $659 million.