Nordstrom Inc. is seeking an agency to handle long-term branding assignments, including the development of its first corporate image campaign.
Mike Agate, president of Select Resources International in Los Angeles, confirmed that the consultancy was conducting a "national search" for a Nordstrom "assignment." He declined to comment further.
Sources said Select has contacted about 10 shops across the country. Preferably, the winning shop would have a presence on the West Coast.
The 96-year-old Seattle retailer has traditionally handled most creative and media buying in-house. Elgin DDB in Seattle handles creative and media buying for Nordstrom's tactical retail work, mainly newspaper and radio ads. Elgin's assignment will not be affected, sources said.
Nordstrom does not currently have a unifying theme or slogan in its advertising. The retailer "is looking for an agency to take [its] brand to the next level," said one source. Executives at the client declined comment.
The $4.5 billion retailer has not yet determined a budget for the assignment, sources said. The chain spent nearly $40 million on advertising in 1996 and about $25 million through the first half of 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The upscale retailer, with more than 90 stores in 19 states, has built a strong reputation for customer service; clerks even hail cabs for customers outside the stores.
Two years ago, six members of the Nordstrom family, which controls nearly 40 percent of the company, were named co-presidents, becoming the fourth generation of namesakes to enter the business. They report to chairman John Whitacre.
Nordstrom reported a strong fiscal third quarter after several years of flat sales and profits. For the period ending Oct. 31, net income grew 6 percent to $36 million while net sales increased 11 percent to $1 billion.