Sebago Steps Into N.Y.

Maine Shoemaker Selects Balet & Albert
BOSTON-Sebago last week moved its ad account out of the region, selecting Balet & Albert in New York after a review that included a trio of larger Boston agencies.
The 20-person shop upstaged Clarke Goward, Greenberg Seronick O’Leary & Partners and Kelley/Dexter to win the Gorham, Maine-based footwear maker’s estimated $1-3 million creative and media assignment.
The review was the first handled by Rossin & Murphy, a newly formed consulting firm in Newton, Mass.
According to consultant David Murphy, Balet & Albert prevailed based largely on its fashion and footwear-related experience. The 5-year-old shop, which claims approximately $25 million in overall billings, currently handles the Atlanta Apparel Mart account and has worked for Fila USA.
Balet & Albert is planning to launch a consumer magazine campaign in the spring for Sebago, said agency president Rick Albert. Some direct marketing may also be in the mix, but no broadcast advertising is planned, he said.
“We plan to nurture the brand, not reinvent it,” Albert said. “Sebago is a pretty well-known brand,” so no radical change of approach is anticipated.
Incumbent Holt, Hughes & Stamell in Portland, Maine, chose not to defend the account it had held for six years. Agency principal George Hughes said his shop took a pass on the review because the client was seeking a “more traditional agency relationship with heavier emphasis on advertising versus marketing strategy.”
Sebago officials have not said why the review was called. According to sources, Holt, Hughes’ effort to reinvent itself as a strategic consulting company was the client’s prime motivation. The defection of co-founder John Holt for a Maine state government post and the departure of Sebago creative team Chris Kast and Mark Nestor, who have formed their own shop, pushed the client over the edge, sources said.
Print executions last year from Holt, Hughes for Sebago featured photography that transformed the client’s products into seafaring vessels. The ads targeted boating enthusiasts and appeared in sailing and fishing magazines.