Zappos Goes Into Play

NEW YORK’s innovative business approach has put its name on the tips of many marketers’ tongues.

The only problem is, a lot of consumers either don’t know the brand exists or that the firm sells more than shoes.

So, the Las Vegas-based retailer has kicked off a review in order to hire an agency to help remedy that problem. The $7 million account in play includes media, creative, discovery/research and agency fees.

Incumbent The Ad Store is defending.

Zappos has become a darling of marketing circles for building its brand through a corporate culture based on customer service and devotion to social media. The ad budget has been small, with funds instead spent on customer care and free shipping.

Its marketing efforts have focused mainly on Internet direct response. Moving ahead, Zappos wants to do more brand advertising, particularly through traditional TV, in order to raise awareness of its overall brand and new clothing business.

In the RFP, the company notes that just 3 percent of Americans shop at its Web site. “We are looking for a partner who can do more with less, believes in our core values and has fresh and innovative ideas for accelerating the growth of the Zappos brand,” said client CEO Tony Hsieh. “We are looking for a partner who will challenge us, not try to change us.”

Of the 20 shops receiving the RFP thus far, 16 are expected to make presentations, Hsieh said, adding: “I’m guessing that we’ll have to schedule follow-up sessions with agencies that we’re more interested in pursuing.”

Zappos is accepting responses through June 30. It plans to hold meetings in Las Vegas from July 13-17. A decision is slated for Aug. 14.

One twist to the review: Zappos is asking agencies to suggest alternative compensation schemes apart from the usual fee-based system.


Related: Q&A with Tony Hsieh