The Richards Group Is Contacted In L.L. Bean’s Nationwide Search

L.L. Bean, the catalog retailer of outdoor clothing and accessories, has begun contacting shops, including The Richards Group in Dallas, about its advertising account.
The Freeport, Maine, client is working with Boston-based consultancy Pile and Co. to develop a list of contenders nationwide. L.L. Bean official Catherine Hartnett confirmed that a search is under way.
Pile and Co. started sending pitch materials to some 25 agencies last week. An initial list of contenders is expected by May. In play are broadcast and print creative and media duties and some direct marketing, Hartnett said. Those assignments, estimated by sources to be worth $20-25 million in annual billings, have been at Bronner Slosberg Humphrey in Boston.
Receiving questionnaires along with Richards last week, according to sources, were: Arnold Communications, Holland Mark Martin Ed-mund and Ingalls Advertising, all in Boston; Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis; Mullen in Wenham, Mass.; Publicis/Bloom in New York; and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va. Martin has declined to participate because of a conflict with Timberland, sources said.
Bronner Slosberg chairman Michael Bronner declined to comment, but the agency is expected to participate in the review. Hartnett declined to discuss budget levels, but the client spent $15 million last year on media, per Competitive Media Reporting.
Not included in the review is L.L. Bean’s interactive marketing assignment, which re-mains with Bronner Slosberg’s Strategic Interactive Group, Hartnett said. The catalog production business–which amounts to 30 annual volumes–remains in-house.
Hartnett would not say why the review, slated to be completed within six to eight weeks, was called. She also declined to confirm agencies that have been contacted, but indicated that location and size are not considerations as long as shops are capable of servicing the account.
L.L. Bean’s 1997 sales were flat at $1.04 billion.–with Steve Krajewski and Katy Eckmann