Steelcase Seats Martin/Williams

Steelcase, the nation’s top seller of office furniture, is looking to increase its advantage with marketing efforts from a new ad agency, Martin/Williams.

Steelcase, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., chose the Minneapolis shop last week following a review that sources said also involved BBDO in Minnea polis. The previous agency of record, The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., did not participate in the review. Biggs/Gilmore Communications in Kalamazoo, Mich., continues to handle promotions for the company’s dealers.

M/W’s challenge is to move the 88-year-old company beyond item-driven advertising to carve out a position of innovation in light of continuing officeplace changes, said Mike Gray, director of business development for M/W.

“They’ve got to move away from ‘Dilbertville’ to offices that move and shift for people,” Gray said.

Specifically, that could mean a move to more “capability- and competency-driven” advertising, Gray said.

Separately, Steelcase rival Herman Miller’s agency review is ongoing, according to company representative Mark Schurman. Executives from the Zeeland, Mich., firm met with three or four Chicago-area shops earlier this month.

The company has not done major advertising in the last year. Its last recorded spending on measured media was $2 million in 1998, but a return to at least that level is anticipated, according to a company representative.