Talbots Hands $25M Account to Publicis

Ends 10-Year Relationship With Arnold

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Publicis New York has nabbed the estimated $25 million-$30 million advertising account for retailer Talbots.

Boston-based search consultant Pile & Co. led the search, in which Publicis bested sibling Publicis Groupe-owned agency Kaplan Thaler Group, also in New York, and independent Richards Group, Dallas, in the final round.

'Looking for real change'
Publicis President and Chief Creative Officer Rob Feakins, in a statement said the agency is excited for the chance to work with a brand "looking for a real change." Representatives for Kaplan Thaler and Richards Group could not be reached.

The agency review came as Hingham, Mass.-based Talbots -- known for catering to women in the 30+ set, while offering children's apparel and sportswear through its Talbots Kids and Talbots Mens lines -- attempts to revamp its marketing approach to boost sales at its nearly 1,400 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. (about 250 are J.Jill-branded stores). The retailer spent $25 million on U.S. measured media in 2006, and $14.1 million on measured media in the first half of 200, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Talbots today announced a net loss of $9.4 million for the third quarter of 2007, compared to a profit of $8.1 million in the year-prior period. Same-store sales for the company decreased 7.9% in the quarter.

End of era
The review also follows the appointment in August of Trudy F. Sullivan to succeed the retiring Arnold Zetcher as president-CEO.

Publicis' win ends Talbots' 10-year relationship with Havas' Arnold Worldwide.

Arnold tried to defend the account, pitching with ArnoldEleven -- a partnership struck in September between the agency and a boutique shop to serve fashion, beauty and luxury marketers -- but was tossed out before a final round cut to four agencies.

In addition to Publicis, Kaplan Thaler and Richards Group, that group of four included GSD&M's Idea City, but the Austin, Texas, agency last month pulled out of the pitch due to a potential conflict.
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