Zappos Eyes Three Shops has narrowed its search for an ad agency to three shops, after a whopping 22 agencies made creative presentations to client executives last month.

Zappos business development manager Aaron Magness identified the remaining contenders as Interpublic Group units Mullen in Boston and Draftfcb in San Francisco and WPP Group-backed CHI & Partners in New York.

Zappos execs will visit the shops in the next two weeks before making a selection, according to Magness.

Incumbent The Ad Store here was among the agencies that made presentations, along with Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York, Interpublic Group’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Havas’ Arnold in Boston, according to sources. The cut marks the end of Ad Store’s tenure on the brand.

Agency interest in Zappos’ account far outstripped the company’s $7 million projected annual budget for marketing. More than 100 agencies replied to Zappos’ initial request for proposals, despite the RFP’s unusual request for creative work up front.

While many submitters privately grumbled, one that failed to advance to the presentation round — Ignited in El Segundo, Calif. — went to its blog to say that the process exemplified all that is broken in the account review process.
Sources attributed the groundswell of interest to a hungry marketplace and the allure of a successful Internet brand that’s seeking to become a bigger name in retail. Zappos first made its name selling shoes, but now also offers clothing and accessories.

Also unusual is Zappos’ final step in the review. Clients typically visit contending agencies before final presentations, not after.

Nielsen Business Media