New management at A.T. Cross has tapped a search consultant to begin a review for the writing instruments company. For the most part, midsized, creatively driven agencies in the Northeast are being invited to submit credentials.
The client has hired Pile and Co., in Boston, to oversee the search. Management changes at A.T. Cross appear to be driving the review.
In November, the company brought in a new president and CEO, Dave Whalen, from Bausch & Lomb. Last month, Whalen named Sondra Wellmerling, also from Bausch & Lomb, svp of marketing and new product development.
The company plans to have a finalists' list by the end of February and will select a new ad agency in mid-March, Wellmerling said.
Pagano Schenck & Kay, Boston, which in recent years has handled only media buying for the Lincoln, R.I., company, plans to participate in the review, according to agency representative Amy Swearingen.
Pagano's last substantial creative work for Cross consisted of billboards in late 1998 promoting the company's time pieces. They featured watch-adorned stick figures and headlines such as, "Break out your finest short-sleeve shirt."
The Ellenson Group, a small New York design shop, has worked on creative executions for Cross, mainly for its Pen Computer Group. The shop is now developing advertising to launch a new product called the Morph.
The agency chosen will be asked to focus on the client's core line of high-end writing instruments, sources said.
Overall ad spending for A.T. Cross was in the $7 million range from 1995-'98. But according to Competitive Media Reporting, spending fell to $2.7 million in the first 10 months of 1999. The company will "absolutely" increase spending this year as it launches a global campaign, Wellmerling said, but declined to state figures.