We Hear: Outdoor Retailer L.L. Bean Splits with Erwin Penland After 2-Plus Years

By Erik Oster 

According to several sources, clothing and outdoor equipment company L.L. Bean will no longer work with Erwin Penland. The IPG agency won the account away from GSD&M in a review that ended in October of 2014, and its New York office has been handling the business since then.

It’s unclear whether the retailer has launched a review or plans to do so in the immediate future. Erwin Penland declined to comment, and the client has not responded to multiple inquiries.

CMO/SVP Steve Fuller left L.L. Bean last summer after 24 years, and the company does not appear to have replaced him.

According to Kantar Media, L.L. Bean spent $30 million on measured media in 2015 and $16.3 million in the first nine months of 2016. Erwin Penland’s most recent work on the business was last April’s “When” campaign, which focused on the brand’s 104-year heritage.
More recently, the brand attracted unwanted media attention when then president-elect Trump tweeted a pseudo-endorsement following an appearance by Linda Bean (granddaughter of the company’s founder, Leon Leonwood Bean) on Fox & Friends. During the show, she claimed that she was “bullied” by Trump opponents for supporting a pro-Trump political action committee.

“It’s very much a case of bullying—bullying me, bullying the companies I own and bullying the one that I partly am on, the L.L.Bean Company, which I’ve owned since I was a child,” she told the hosts. “My grandfather gave me the first share of stock the day I was born.”

L.L. Bean executive chairman Shawn Gorman responded to a subsequent boycott campaign against the brand by Grab Your Wallet with a Facebook statement clarifying that Linda’s leanings represented “the political views of a single member of our 10-person board of directors” and that “no individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that L.L. built.”

After visiting the company’s Maine headquarters, your spies can confirm that it is quite friendly and apolitical. Great hiking boots!

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