NEW YORK Bath & Body Works said it has cancelled its account review.
About six undisclosed contenders were set to meet with the client two weeks ago to present broad strategic concepts prior to a cut to approximately four finalists. Those meetings never took place.
With projected media spending of more than $30 million, the winner would have become the Reynoldsburg, Ohio-based client's first lead agency [Adweek Online, Aug. 9].
"It was frustrating," said a source. "There had been some work done. No creative, but strategic thinking about where they might go and what they might do."
A client representative said the directive came from Leslie Wexner, CEO of the client's parent, Limited Brands, but offered no immediate elaboration.
One source said Wexner wanted the in-house advertising team to handle the business through the holiday-selling season.
The scuttled review process, which had been managed by Joanne Davis Consulting here, could restart in the spring, sources said. Davis did not return calls seeking comment.
Bath & Body hired a new CMO earlier this month, Anne Martin-Vachon, previously vp of global cosmetics and beauty marketing at Procter & Gamble, where she oversaw Cover Girl, Max Factor, Olay, Ivory and Crest. The position at Bath & Body had been vacant since early 2005.
It was not clear what role, if any, her arrival played in the review's termination.
According to the questionnaire Davis sent to agencies in August, Bath & Body sought to trade its "gingham check and country-inspired" image for that of a "modern spa-inspired apothecary of beauty and well-being." Its stated consumer target is women 18-54, from "soccer moms to spa girls."
Its list of competitors is nearly as broad: from The Body Shop, Sephora and Crabtree & Evelyn to department stores and specialty retailers.