Martin Lets Go of Lingerie

Lack of Advertising Leads Agency to Part Ways With Vanity Fair
ATLANTA–Skimpy lingerie may be appealing, but small lingerie accounts are not.
That is the reason The Martin Agency has parted ways with four-year client Vanity Fair.
“It really became not worth our while anymore,” said Alda Abbracciamento, partner, senior vice president and group management supervisor at the Richmond, Va., agency. “Budgets significantly declined in 1999. Resources have shifted from advertising to other areas of marketing in a very competitive category . . . [That] blocks us out of a lot of clients.”
Competitive Media Reporting cites a steady and dramatic decline in media expenditures: $12.3 million in 1998, $4.6 million in 1999 and $545,000 through April of this year.
The Alpharetta, Ga., based Vanity Fair has started an agency search that will be handled internally, said Rhonda Harper, vice president of marketing.
“We decided to in-house all media planning and media buying,” Harper said. “We are looking for a smaller, closer-to-home agency to provide pure creative.”
Harper said Vanity Fair has already sent out 15 requests for proposals and received 13 responses, mostly from Georgia agencies and “one or two” outside the state.
She said the process would be narrowed to three to five agencies by the end of August. The semifinalists will deliver capabilities presentations for the next cut to two or three finalists.
Agencies in the final round will receive a assignment before an October decision is delivered.
Harper acknowledged the shrinking size of the ad account and praised Martin for remaining on board for as long as it did.
“[Martin] has been kind enough to continue with us while we tried to work through this, but ultimately we just could not work out a retainer relationship,” Harper said. “This relationship is not ending because we’re unhappy.”
Harper had been overseeing the review, but her last day at Vanity Fair was Friday. The company’s president, Ellen Rohde, will lead the process until Harper’s replacement is hired, with creative services manager Marya Callahan acting as agency coordinator.
Harper declined to put a figure on Vanity Fair’s media budget. Nor would she say what form future advertising would take, though “in the past, it’s been primarily print and direct.”
In the fall, Vanity Fair will introduce the BodySculpting Collection of wireless bras.