Despite its apparent underdog status in the agency review of regional camping retailer Sunny's, The Stern Agency in Columbia, Md., prevailed over three larger shops.
The Stern Agency, which billed $4 million in 1997, outshone competitors Earle Palmer Brown in Bethesda, Md.; Adworks in Washington, D.C.; and MGH Advertising in Baltimore, the client confirmed last week.
Sunny's was prompted to seek an agency after its newly appointed president announced "aggressive expansion plans," said Cathie DeGonia, client director of marketing and advertising, who was managing the account in-house.
The Stern Agency had some aggressive plans of its own, according to its president, Ed Stern. During final presentations, Stern said the shop made a separate pitch--in the form of a tent--outside Sunny's headquarters in Elkridge, Md. Copywriter Sean Krause, who has camped in the Himalaya Mountains, was on site with a sleeping bag and food rations for two days.
"I felt a little bit like an underdog," Stern told Adweek. "[The other finalists offer] size I can't compete with, so I wanted to show what we could deliver."
Antics aside, The Stern's Agency's creative and media strategies are what impressed the client, said DeGonia.
The budget was not disclosed. Sources, however, estimated billings at $1-2 million.
The agency will handle media buying and create retail-oriented print, TV and radio ads for Sunny's. With 26 locations in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., the chain plans to open about six stores annually for the next several years. It also hopes to post an initial public offering within three years, DeGonia said.
The 50-year-old retailer sold military merchandise as Sunny's Surplus until two years ago, when it changed its focus to camping supplies. The client will keep its tagline, "The affordable outdoor store."