Struggling Retailer to Stay With 'Queer Eye' Spokesman

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pier 1 Imports has split with its agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., effective Sept. 21. A Pier 1 spokeswoman said the retailer is holding a closed review for a new agency and has identified a list of shops it will evaluate.

The housewares chain is struggling with disappointing sales in the face of rising competition from both discounters and upscale housewares chains. With more design-oriented items available at the big discounter retailers, Kmart and Wal-Mart Stores included, Pier 1 has been losing ground on the low-cost end while "affordable luxury" retailers such as Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel have been taking share in the upscale market.

Changing media plan
After announcing disappointing sales for the first fiscal quarter earlier this month, management announced Pier 1 would start over on its marketing efforts, with new creative and a new media plan. Besides sitting out the network TV ad-buying marketplace in favor of more local media buys, the company plans to break new ads featuring its new spokesman, decorator Thom Filicia, of TV's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

The Pier 1 spokeswoman said the agency split does not affect the company's relationship with Mr. Filicia.

In a statement, Campbell-Ewald's president and managing director, Jim Palmer, said the change was "extremely disappointing " but touted the agency's contributions to Pier 1 for the last five years. Campbell-Ewald created the initial ads with Mr. Filicia, as well as the previous, long-running campaign featuring actress Kirstie Alley.

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