They’re on a First Name Basis

Michaels and Richards: The Arts and Crafts of a Brand Deal
DALLAS–The Richards Group here was tapped last week to take on branding strategy chores for Michaels Stores, a nationwide chain of arts and crafts outlets.
Billings were being negotiated at press time, according to the client and the agency. Although Richards may get broadcast projects in the future, for now the assignment will not include creative or media work on the $65-70 million ad account. The client handles creative and media components internally.
Other contenders for the Irving, Texas-based client’s account were undisclosed. There was no incumbent.
“We think The Richards Group will be able to do for us what they’ve done for Home Depot or Motel 6–help us establish and brand an identity with the consumer,” said Cynthia Gould, a representative in Michaels’ corporate communications and investor relations office.
Despite good sales (eight percent revenue growth in 1998) and 514 stores across the country, Michaels has been without a key central image, according to Richards principal Dick Murray. Murray headed the pitch that introduced client officials to the agency’s proprietary “spherical branding” philosophy.
The Dallas agency was able to pursue the account when its short-lived relationship with another arts and crafts retailer, MJDesigns, ended in January.
Michaels has traditionally utilized newspaper circulars to promote the items in its midsized stores (about 16,000 square feet). With no other national crafts chains in the field, Gould said Michaels faces its toughest competition from regional competitors like Hobby Lobby in the Midwest and Garden Ridge in Texas.
The new assignment brings yet another account win in a breakneck 1999 for Richards. Since the New Year, it has tallied seven new pieces of business, including Excel Communications, Travelocity, ClubCorp, Comdisco, Flashnet Communications and Supervalu supermarkets. That total could have been higher had Richards succeeded in pitches for Porsche Cars of North America, Arizona Jean Co. and Del Webb.
The shop is currently chasing the $6-10 million apparel business of Outlast Technologies.