Martin Grabs Creative and Media for Burt's Bees

On a Roll After Wal-Mart Win, Agency Picks Up Growing Brand

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Burt's Bees, the reigning power in the small but fast-growing natural personal-care-products business, has tapped The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., as creative and media shop.
Burt's Bees had estimated 2006 retail sales of $250 million for its natural personal-care product lines.
Burt's Bees had estimated 2006 retail sales of $250 million for its natural personal-care product lines.

Martin replaces, ironically enough, Brand Buzz, a unit of WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York. Spending wasn't disclosed, but Burt's, which has been growing at a 20% compound annual clip in recent years, had estimated 2006 retail sales of $250 million, which by industry standards would support a $10 million to $20 million marketing budget.

Interactive still in review
The interactive portion of the account, which Brand Buzz also handled, remains in review, with a decision likely by the end of the month, said Mike Indursky, chief marketing and strategic officer at Burt's Bees. The creative and media portion of the review included the incumbent and two other shops he declined to name.

The move to Martin, fresh off its win of the $580 million Wal-Mart account, comes amid a major buildup of Burt's Bees' marketing department and product lineup. The marketing and product-development group has grown to about 20 from only three in 2005. Burt's had 33 new products last year, up from only five in 2005. And Mr. Indursky said he expects another 30 or so products to launch this year, including new entries in hand soaps and nonchemical sunscreen.

"We were looking for an agency around [Martin's] size that has really strong insights and can turn those insights into powerful creative and has the ability to take that idea and bring it forward to all the relevant channels," Mr. Indursky said.

The move from Brand Buzz to a more conventional agency doesn't necessarily presage a shift toward more traditional media. "The overall idea will drive the media," Mr. Indursky said. "We needed greater resources, and we found Martin at this stage is the right fit for us as we've evolved."

Impressed by past work
Mr. Indursky said he was particularly impressed by Martin's work for Geico, UPS and the TLC "Life's Lessons" campaign. He said he also wasn't concerned that Martin ramping up for its recently won Wal-Mart account will drain resources for Burt's Bees.

Mr. Indursky declined to comment on whether an equity stake in the privately held marketer, based in Raleigh, N.C., is part of the compensation package for Martin. That type of equity arrangement is part of the compensation deal in another hot-brand/hot-shop pairing: Method Products and Crispin Porter & Bogusky.
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