Bean History Key to M/W’s Idea

L.L. Bean’s 89-year history will play an important role in Martin/Williams’ first work for the retailer, expected early next year, according to agency officials.

“Their quest is to make that brand more contemporary and relevant to a younger audience,” said John Karlson, the Minneapolis agency’s director of strategic research, who will run the account. “We’re in an age of disposable transient brands, and L.L. Bean stands out as a company with substance.”

Martin/Williams landed the Freeport, Maine retailer’s $15-20 million account after a review conducted by Pile & Co. in Boston. Other contenders were Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis and FCB Worldwide in New York. Incumbent Mullen, in Wenham, Mass., chose not to participate.

M/W president Steve Collins said he viewed the account as a “defining brand” for consumers and the shop, likening it to Volkswagen or Apple. “They’re national in scope and well-loved by consumers,” he said.

Bean officials asked agencies to create a spring advertising campaign that carried a strong brand message. M/W applied its “Turbo Branding” integrated marketing strategy to its work to demonstrate how the retailer could leverage that message across all points of consumer contact, Karlson said.

“We’re beginning with print advertising, but our recommendation included interactive, as well as direct and event marketing,” he said. “Every consumer touch point is brought into this.”

The agency’s first ads will break in advance of Bean’s spring catalog, Karlson said. Mullen’s most recent work for Bean was built around the tagline, “Start here. Go anywhere.” It was unclear whether that line will be kept.

But Karlson said, “Our solution is able to work with that. It’s a good line.”

M/W also does advertising for Target Corp., whose flagship stores will start selling Eddie Bauer brand next year, and outdoor products retailer Gander Mountain. Mike Gray, M/W’s director of business development, said all potential conflict issues have been worked out and all clients will remain on the agency’s roster.