Richards Is In L.L. Bean Semis

The Richards Group in Dallas last week emerged as one of seven semi-finalists for the $20-25 million advertising account of catalog retailer L.L. Bean.
Also in the running are three New England shops: Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston; Mullen in Wenham, Mass.; and Toth Design & Advertising of Concord, Mass. Angotti, Thomas, Hedge and Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, both in New York, and Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis round out the field.
Bronner Slosberg Humphrey, the Boston shop that has handled the L.L. Bean account since winning a review five years ago, chose to withdraw from the process before the cut was made last week, said Skip Pile, president of Pile and Co., the consulting company here that is overseeing the current agency competition.
About 25 agencies across the country were initially contacted, with about 20 responding to the pitch materials issued by Pile and Co. early last month, sources said.
The semifinalists will present credentials to representatives of the Freeport, Maine-based client before a cut to three or four finalists is made mid-month, Pile said.
The remaining agencies will then make creative presentations with a decision coming in late May or June.
Of primary import to the client, one of the world’s largest catalog retailers of outdoor clothing and accessories, is the ability to fashion strong branding messages, apparel and retail expertise and strong broadcast capabilities, Pile said. The winning shop will be asked to develop television and print campaigns.
L.L. Bean will keep its direct mail catalog business in-house. The retailer’s online marketing assignments remain with the Strategic Interactive Group, a unit of Bronner Slosberg.
Client officials have not said why the review was called, but sources indicated that several years of flat sales prompted the search.