Jack Daniel’s Led Stein Mart to Its New Agency

Retailer typically spends $30 million annually

Retailer Stein Mart’s road to new creative agency Arnold began with a quirky transit ad for Jack Daniel's.

Stein Mart chairman Jay Stein saw the ad while riding a subway in March. The execution—from Arnold’s Boston office—paired a vintage photo of Queen Victoria with a pithy headline (“Whisky Fit for a Queen”).

Stein subsequently asked Glori Katz—his company’s svp of marketing and advertising—to track down the creator. Arnold Boston, in turn, introduced Katz to Arnold New York, whose relatively small size (about 150 staffers) and familiarity with female-skewing brands (Noxzema, Nexxus, St. Ives) better matched the retailer’s needs.

A few phone conversations and two or three face-to-face meetings later, Stein Mart had found its new shop. And, in an unusual twist, this week’s hire short-circuited plans for a broader (and longer) agency search, Katz said.

Arnold’s assignment includes traditional and digital ads, according to Lynn Power, president of the New York office. The Havas agency’s first work is expected in September.

Stein Mart, which has 267 stores in 29 states, typically spends about $30 million annually in media. Last year’s total, for example, exceeded $27 million, according to Nielsen. (That figure doesn’t include online spending.)

Arnold succeeds Fry Hammond Barr in Orlando, Fla., on the business. At the same time, Stein Mart has hired a new shop for media planning and the buying of broadcast and digital media: Cross Media in New York.

Arnold introduced the retailer to Cross Media, which shares two other assignments with the creative shop: Mike’s Hard Lemonade and NYU Langone Medical Center. Universal Media in Charlotte, N.C., continues to handle print media buying for Stein Mart.