DALLAS-Officials with Internet startup Living.com have selected nine agencies, including five in Texas, as first-round contenders for an inaugural $5 million print image campaign due later in 1999 [Adweek, May 24].
Keith Rollman, marketing manager for the online home furniture vendor, which plans to be operational July 1, said face-to-face meetings with the shops would begin this week. A cut down to perhaps three agencies would take place at the end of the month, with a decision due shortly thereafter, he said.
Lone Star shops invited to participate in the pitch are GSD&M of Austin, The Richards Group in Dallas and McCann-Erickson Southwest, Bates Southwest and BBDO, all in Houston.
Joining in the hunt are TFA/Leo Burnett Technology Group in Chicago and Left Coast agencies Goldberg Moser O'Neill and Young & Rubicam, both San Francisco, and Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore.
Questionnaires seeking the agencies' qualifications and e-commerce case history experience were issued last month, shortly after Living.com had secured venture capital-reportedly $6.5 million-for its Internet site from Austin Ventures and Benchmark Capital.
The winning agency will be asked to create a national campaign concentrated in consumer magazines later this year. Rollman previously stated that a possible increase in the ad budget to $15-20 million in 2000 would be a "reasonable projection."
Despite the Web site's backing from key players (Benchmark provided seed money in the launch of fast-growing Internet auction site eBay), some analysts feel Living.com and other direct-order furniture companies will have difficulty convincing online shoppers to buy such big-ticket items through a click of the mouse.
Living.com is led by chairman Andrew Busey, who previously headed Acuity, an Internet chat software supplier located in Austin. Most notably, Busey claims status as an early project coordinator for the Mosaic World Wide Web browser, a precursor to Netscape software.