Taken To The Cleaners

Pilgrim Chooses Rives Over 4 Competitors
DALLAS–Rives Carlberg of Houston has picked up the advertising duties of Pilgrim Cleaners, that city’s largest dry cleaning chain.
Spending is projected at less than $1 million annually, per the client. Rives Carlberg will develop newspaper inserts, in-store collateral and direct mail pieces (including coupons) for the 71-year-old outfit, according to Pilgrim president and chief executive officer Hugh Morrison.
Rives Carlberg was selected over four other agencies, including incumbent Marrot Communications, also Houston. Marrot officials declined comment last week.
Marrot will complete an ongoing campaign for Pilgrim’s San Antonio stores in that market, Morrison said. Rives Carlberg will create an “aggressive” fall campaign in Houston that will expand to the Alamo City in 1999, according to Rives president Chuck Carlberg.
No plans are in the works to advertise the client on television. “My experience tells me we’re one of those companies that’s not big enough” to warrant local television broadcasts in Houston’s market, Morrison said.
One of the challenges assigned to Rives Carlberg is the customer retention problem common in the category. “There are segments of the market where there is a high churn of customers,” said Carlberg. “Some are changing cleaners once every two years.”
Morrison said Pilgrim’s research shows service and locations outweigh price issues for dry cleaning customers. The company has 84 locations in Houston, primarily in the city’s western residential sector.