Luxury luggage and leather goods maker Hartmann has selected three undisclosed finalists in in the review for the creative portion of its ad account.
The winner may also have the opportunity to pick up media buying and planning chores, but this has yet to be finalized, said Kathie L. DeVoe, Hartmann's vice president of marketing.
Hartmann, in Lebanon, Tenn., and its lead agency of four years, Hill, Holliday/Altschiller, New York, parted ways in mid-October. Hartmann parent Brown-Foreman Beverages, Louisville, Ky., employs Advanswer Media/Programming, St. Louis, to handle media planning and buying duties.
The finalists, all based in New York, are of varying sizes. The list of contenders had included 11 shops from both coasts, the client said.
The business is estimated to be worth $2-4 million, although Hartmann spent less than $1 million in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Print work has dominated its media placements.
"Hill, Holliday has been a very good agency for us and helped us start the pendulum moving," said DeVoe, but now, "we need to elevate the image of the brand" so that it is more "aspirational." The new advertising also needs to stress its "American spirit." All Hartmann's products are manufactured in the U.S.
The tag for the past several years has been, "A little more money, a lot more bag."
The 120-year-old firm declined to name its competitors, but sources said Hartmann and upscale marketer Toumi are in an luxury echelon above Samsonite Corp. In terms of sales, Hartmann is "having a great year," said DeVoe.