Swirl Takes Petstore.com for Walk

With a $10 Mil. Budget, E-Commerce Site Chases Rival Pets.com
SAN FRANCISCO–Swirl last week scored its biggest new business win to date: the $10 million account of Petstore.com. The agency was awarded the business following a review that included other Bay Area shops.
“We wanted people who had big-agency experience, but [also] worked for a smaller shop,” said Bruce Gallaher, vice president of marketing for Petstore.com, Emeryville, Calif. “We were really impressed with Swirl. They also had great references.”
The San Francisco agency, which was founded in September 1997, has been pursuing larger accounts since last summer, when the agency’s executives decided the shop was devoting too much energy to pitches for small or short-term projects and accounts.
Agency executives stress the shop still chooses its new-business pursuits on a case-by-case basis, without regard to account size. But it is also seeking clients with long-term growth potential like Petstore.com.
“Petstore.com is a great opportunity for us,” said Eric Roos, Swirl partner and director of account planning. “We think it’s an excellent idea for an e-commerce site, and we’re excited to help with its launch.”
The Petstore.com Web site will allow consumers to purchase pet food, grooming aids and other supplies, and will offer pet-related information and chat services for pet owners. The company has also established a relationship with the American Animal Hospital, which will act as a veterinary resource for the site, according to Gallaher.
Petstore.com will compete directly with Pets.com, a similar e-commerce site that launched last year. Pets.com recently secured financing from venture capital group Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and online bookstore Amazon.com. Sources said Pets.com is gearing up to spend at least $20 million on advertising and marketing over the next year.
Gallaher said interactive and offline campaigns for Petstore.com will launch in May. The Web site is still under construction, and Swirl is assisting with its development.
“We expect to do print, radio and outdoor advertising,” said Roos. An online banner campaign will kick off the launch, he said.
Offline work will break initially on the West Coast, but will roll out nationally during the year. Interactive executions will appear on sites such as search engine Lycos and on America Online, he added.
Swirl’s client list also includes Levi Strauss & Co., Ubisoft and Virgin Megastores.