B&N Books Agency Review

Client Says ‘The End’ to Weiss, Whitten, Stagliano
NEW YORK–Barnes & Noble has begun a search for a new ad agency, less than a year after it hired Weiss, Whitten, Stagliano and just weeks after the shop’s first TV work appeared.
The client abruptly gave the New York agency three months’ notice last week.
Mary Ellen Keating, Barnes & Noble’s senior vice president of corporate communications, gave no reason for the split on the $35 million account, other than to say, “Our needs are changing.”
Sources, however, said the client was disappointed at the length of time it took the shop to develop creative work for the campaign. Weiss, Whitten was hired in July 1997 and its first work–print ads for the stores–appeared in January. TV and radio spots broke in May.
Other sources noted that the approval process for retail clients typically involves several executives.
“It has been an exciting and gratifying time and we wish them all the best,” agency president Adam Stagliano said. “We are proud of our work for both Barnes & Noble bookstores and of our part in the successful relaunch of BarnesandNoble.com.” He declined further comment.
New York-based Barnes & Noble hopes to hire a new shop in August, Keating said.
Print and radio ads by Weiss, Whitten will continue to run, but its four TV spots will be retired this month, said Keating. The spots use bizarre images to illustrate selling points for the book-seller’s Web site and end with a voiceover: “Millions of books. Barnes & Noble is now online. At BarnesandNoble.com.”
Barnes & Noble is looking at 10 to 12 shops and hopes to cut the list to two by late July, said Keating. The goal is to launch a new campaign in the fall.
The prevailing shop will handle creative duties for both retail stores and the Web site. VSM Media here will continue to plan and buy media.
Keating declined to name the agencies in the review. But sources said the client had contacted at least three New York shops–Deutsch, Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners and Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, met with Barnes & Noble last week, sources said, but declined to participate. All of the shops either declined comment or could not be reached.
–with Jane Irene Kelly and Justin Din