Persistence Pays Off For W.B. Doner

Agency Gets Fashion Bug Account It Failed to Win in Earlier Review
DETROIT–Charming Shoppes has shifted creative and media responsibilities for its Fashion Bug apparel chain’s $10 million account to W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich., six months after choosing another agency in a review for the creative part of the account.
In November, the Bensalem, Pa.-based retailer selected Earle Palmer Brown, Philadelphia, to handle creative duties. Media Edge in New York was already handling media buying. Doner’s Baltimore office had been a finalist in the review for creative, along with DeVito/Verdi and Farago & Partners, both in New York, and BBDO South in Atlanta.
In February, Doner restructured its Baltimore office to focus on direct marketing, consolidating advertising accounts at its Southfield headquarters.
Although EPB had been awarded creative duties, talks continued between Doner and Fashion Bug marketing officials, said Doner chairman Alan Kalter. Impressed by some of Doner’s ideas, Fashion Bug officials decided to move the account, Kalter said.
“We chose Doner because of their expertise in strategic direction coupled with their innovative creative,” said Carmen Monaco, Fashion Bug’s marketing vice president.
Doner’s tasks include establishing “signature awareness” of the Fashion Bug brand and creating a “distinctive brand bond” with current and prospective customers, Monaco said.
Fashion Bug has 1,135 stores in 42 states.
Initial work by Doner for the retailer is focusing on radio, Kalter said. Alternative media, print and outdoors are being considered for later in the year. No TV advertising is currently planned, he said.
“Back-to-school is their biggest push, like it is for most fashion retailers,” Kalter said. “The real positioning work will break during back-to-school.”
Fashion Bug experienced some financial difficulties in 1995 and 1996, but a new management team is helping to turn things around, Kalter said.
For the six months ending Aug. 2, 1997, Charming Shoppes posted net income of $5 million, compared to a net loss of $6 million during the same period a year earlier.