L.L. Bean Focuses on Heritage

Martin/Williams continues efforts to set L.L. Bean apart from its outdoor-gear competitors by stressing the re tailer’s longevity and family ownership in a new TV spot tied to the company’s 90th year.

“Competitors have come and gone,” says a voiceover after the company’s anniversary is noted. “But none have matched L.L. Bean’s commitment to quality.” The Freeport, Maine-based client spends $15-20 million annually on ads.

“It presents consumers with a choice,” said John Karlson, svp of strategic development at the Minneapolis shop. “Bean has a different way of dealing with customers: over the long term, [not] the short term.”

The work “is much more focused on who we are as a company and why that’s important to the consumer,” said Denise Karkos, Bean’s advertising manager.

The effort comes in the midst of transition for the venerable firm. Bean president Chris McCormick has revamped the company’s catalog, altering certain clothing lines and eliminating others. The company is also looking to build its retail presence in malls and turn around several years of flat sales.

A new ad, breaking this week during network news telecasts and on national cable networks, mixes old photos of the company’s first store and early workers with new footage of a man fly-fishing and customers being served at Bean’s flagship store in Freeport. Absent is the company’s tagline of the last several years, “Start here. Go anywhere.”

“We thought [the tag] would be an extra message in a spot where there’s already a lot going on,” Karlson said.