Talbots Looks at 4 Shops

BOSTON Havas’ Arnold here is out of the review for Talbots’ estimated $20 million ad account, as the retailer prepares to hear pitches from four agencies, per sources.

Set to present to the Hingham, Mass.-based client the week of Nov. 9 are: independent The Richards Group in Dallas; Publicis Groupe’s Publicis and The Kaplan Thaler Group, both in New York; and Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Texas, sources said. A decision is slated for on or around Nov. 12.

The agencies either declined comment or referred queries to the client, where executives could not immediately be reached. (An Arnold representative also referred calls to Talbots, a client for the past 10 years.)

Also declining comment was a representative at Pile and Co., the Boston-based consultancy overseeing the search.

The client in recent years has spent approximately $20 million annually in domestic measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“Talbots has determined this is the appropriate time to conduct an agency review. As Talbots continues to grow its well-established brand, it remains committed to partnering with an agency that will help the company achieve its significant growth opportunities and build on its legacy as the retail destination for the 35+ customer,” the client said in a statement when it launched the search a month ago.

The chain operates nearly 1,400 stores in 47 states and the U.K., though 1,135 of those sites are J. Jill locations.

Arnold last year orchestrated a TV, print, Internet and sweepstakes push that focused on Talbots’ employees. The work, stressing customer service, featured many of the chain’s more than 11,000 associates in newspaper ads and in a 170-page catalog with photos, their names, stores and length of time with the company. The effort posed the question, “What kind of classic are you?”

Last September, Arnold helped Talbots make its first foray into Internet brand building, launching a Web site that let women customize outfits for vacation getaways.

The agency is losing another client, Royal Caribbean, which has split with Arnold and is now eyeing four contenders for its estimated $75 million business.

Arnold is a finalist for the $15-20 million New Balance business.