1-800-Flowers’ Business on the Loose

Client’s New Marketing Chief Holds Talks With 6-8 Agencies

NEW YORK–1-800-Flowers, the self-professed world’s largest florist, began contacting agencies last week about its ad account, currently at McCann-Erickson.
James Glicker, who joined the Westbury, N.Y., company just over a month ago in the new position of vice president of sales and marketing, characterized agency talks as informal. “We’re speaking with various agencies about various possible alternatives,” he said. “We’re at a very early stage. We’re talking to McCann as well.”
Sources, however, said the conversations Glicker is having with agencies have been anything but informal. The former chief executive officer of Bertelsmann Music Group Australia/New Zealand in Sydney is telling shops that the company is seeking an agency to handle all duties on its estimated $12-15 million account, which includes new media chores, sources said. He has already met with some of the six to eight agencies contacted about the business McCann-Erickson in New York has handled since 1993. Although the client has met with agencies about its account in recent years, sources said the new managers are doing more than seeing what other shops can offer. McCann-Erickson does most of the media chores; the remainder is done in-house.
A McCann-Erickson representative said, “They are still our client and until there are any further developments, we have no comment.”
A $12-15 million ad budget would mark a renewed commitment to advertising, which has fallen below $10 million for each of the last two years, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
McCann-Erickson’s latest TV work for 1-800-Flowers features founder and president James McCann extolling the freshness of his company’s floral arrangements.
“When people tell us we’re fresh,” McCann says at the end of the spot, “we say, ‘Thank you.'”
Another recent spot offers a discount on birthday floral arrangements and ends with the line, “Just call our name.”
The company, founded 20 years ago, has 2,000 employees throughout the country. It reported sales for its last fiscal year at $300 million. Competitor FTD reported $162.6 million in sales in fiscal 1997.
The company claims that more than 9 million purchases are made annually through 1-800-Flowers.
–with Michael McCarthy