Shoemaker Speeds Review Pace

Johnston & Murphy,a maker of upscale men’s shoes, is quietly holding a review for its$4-5 million account after parting ways with longtime agency BaylessCronin.

An agency representative confirmed that the Atlanta shop resigned the account after holding it for six years.

The new agency search is being managed by client vice president of marketing Kevin Janiga, who joined Nashville, Tenn.-based Johnston & Murphy two months ago from CH Guenther in San Antonio. His predecessor, Andrew Gilbert, was appointed president of Dockers Footwear, another division of J&M parent company Genesco.

Said Janiga, “There are three areas [in which] we’re looking for a lot of expertise: strategic account planning—someone who develops campaigns based on well-conceived strategy; holistic creative that [we] can execute across all contact points; and third, we’re looking for an agency that really embraces the idea of brand integration. We have so many distribution levels it’s important that we have consistency.”

The classic leather casual and dress shoes which comprise the Johnston & Murphy brand are carried in department and specialty stores in about 3,000 locations, as well as 150 factory outlet and J&M retail locations. The company also operates a direct catalog business and sells product via the Internet.

Capabilities presentations by a handful of agencies were scheduled to be completed last week. Final presentations will be made the second week of March, with an agency selection coming soon thereafter.

“We’re on a pretty quick time line here,” Janiga said.

Contending agencies were not identified, but Janiga characterized the review as limited to the Southeast and Southwest. A variety of small, medium and large shops are under consideration, he said.

Publically traded Genesco had sales of $573 million last year from its two shoe divisions, according to Hoovers Online. The company has also launched a new retail chain, Underground Station, a clothing and shoe operation which targets urban men in the 18-35 demographic. The company has increasingly sought to license its Johnston & Murphy brand for use on apparel and accessories.

The company has spent more than $3 million on advertising in the first 10 months of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.