4 Agencies Set to Draw for Art.com

Online Seller of Art Reproductions Seeks “Nimble Shop’ as Partner
CHICAGO-Art.com, an online purveyor of art prints and photographs, is down to four finalists in a review to find its first agency of record. The company expects to spend up to $20 million on advertising next year.
Still in the hunt are Leo Burnett and Ogilvy & Mather, both in Chicago; Mullen in Wenham, Mass.; and Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, according to Michael Kahn, vice president of marketing at the Lake Forest, Ill.-based client.
Agencies will receive an assignment covering creative, media and merchandising strategies, and make presentations toward the end of the month before a selection is made, Kahn said. The final four were culled from a group of nine agencies that were initially considered.
“We’ve got a rich, rich product to work with,” Kahn said. The company, which was purchased last month by Getty Images, Seattle, currently has in its archives about 100,000 images-reproductions of famous and less-famous paintings and works of art, as well as photos-that customers can buy over the Web. That catalogue is expected to be greatly enhanced by the deal with Getty, which has some 30 million images on hand.
Plans in the works also call for an auction component to the Web site.
Consumers will eventually be able to get their artwork sized to order, custom-framed and printed on the paper stock of their choice.
The agency’s main task will be to drive consumers to the Web site at www.art.com. A media plan has yet to be developed, Kahn said. Keys for the client are a strong retail component and a solid creative and media strategy, he said.
In addition, the company wants what Kahn termed “a nimble shop.”
“This is the Internet, and things move quickly,” he said.
Kahn said the sale of art prints has long been a “fragmented category, dominated by the ma-and-pa shops. It’s been that way for 2,000 years.
“We’re creating something that has never existed,” he said.
Art.com plans to spend $3.5 million through the remainder of this year, and $15-20 million next year, Kahn said.
The company’s sales in its first year have reportedly been about $2 million, selling art and frames to 30,000 consumers.