Officials with WestWayne here said last week that the agency had been awarded the advertising account of Bassett Furniture Industries, headquartered in Bassett, Va.
The previous agency was Trone Advertising of Greensboro, N.C.
According to Competitive Media Reporting, Bassett Furniture Industries spent just over $1 million on its advertising in 1996 and nearly $750,000 through August of this year. That media budget could go as high as $5 million next year, sources said, as the company continues to establish its Bassett Furniture Direct retail stores.
"They've brought in new management, and they're re-evaluating everything," said agency managing partner Don Morgan.
The client manufactures a comprehensive range of furniture for the home and office. It has traditionally sold its wares through department stores, mass merchandisers, independent and chain furniture outlets, rent-to-own retailers and similar operations. While those channels of distribution will continue, a major portion of WestWayne's attention will go toward the client's growing Bassett Furniture Direct operation.
"The furniture business has been very price and promotions driven," Morgan said. "We have to make people want to come in because of what [Bassett Furniture Industries] can offer them. Today's retail market is about helping customers manage their lives in a better way. It's what [stores] like Nordstrom's, Starbucks and Nike Town have done."
He added that the agency's first work for the client would be aimed at the company's sales force and the furniture trade. A consumer campaign is expected to follow in late spring.
Morgan said the agency won the account before the review was scheduled to conclude.
"They were at the agency and we excused ourselves, and they must have made their decision then," he said. "They told us they were stopping the review and asked us to put together a compensation proposal."
Robert Spilman, chief executive officer of Bassett Furniture Industries, could not be reached for comment at press time.