Barber Martin & Associates has been named agency of record for Cato Corporation of Charlotte, N.C.
The Richmond, Va., shop won the account for the women's fashion retailer over a pair of North Carolina contenders: Asheville incumbent The Alpha Group and Charlotte's Price/McNabb, which has a satellite office in Asheville. Cato's search began last April.
Cato vice president of advertising Virginia Meyer said Barber Martin's extensive retail marketing experience with clients like Helig-Meyers Furniture and Ritz Cameras was "an incredibly strong" reason for the client's choice.
"They already speak the same language," Meyer explained.
"Also, I wanted a strategic business partner, somebody who could not only handle the retail detail part, but also be able to lift their chin off their desk and look a little more globally," Meyer said. "They have strong creative and their large media department was a big plus. We are in a lot of markets and I am interested in making that as cost-effective as possible."
Cato, which opened its first pair of stores in South Carolina in 1946, now has more than 750 retail locations in 21 states. The discount specialty retailer operates four distinct fashion entities under the names Cato, Cato Fashions, Cato Plus and It's Fashion.
Meyer would not divulge the annual media budget other than to say it was "somewhere between a million and the moon." Competitive Media Reporting cites minimal advertising expenditures since 1995, the last year the retailer is listed as spending more than $1 million. Since then, CMR's cumulative total for Cato is less than $120,000.
"Through the presentation process we've gotten to know Cato's management team. We're very respectful of their approach to doing business, the way they merchandise their stores and their commitment to grow their business," said agency president Bob Barber.