Zappos Taps Mullen as Creative Agency

More Than 100 Shops Competed in Online Retailer's Red-Hot Review

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Following a much-watched review that ultimately encompassed more than 100 shops, Zappos has selected Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen as its creative agency.

"It was a very difficult decision, as we were talking to some agencies that were best in class," said Aaron Magness, a Zappos executive who ran the review for the marketer. "We're really excited about moving forward with this partnership."

Interpublic sibling DraftFCB and CHI & Partners were among the finalists. Mullen, notably, spent almost a decade handling creative for retailer T.J. Maxx.

Hot property
Zappos' agency review, launched this summer, quickly attracted widespread interest from the agency community, as the marketer has been a darling of the advertising world with much-admired customer-service smarts. Its CEO, Tony Hsieh, is also one of the savvier when it comes to social media and has 1.3 million people following him on Twitter. Zappos was also a candidate for Ad Age's Marketer of the Year last year.

Zappos had worked with Ad Store, New York, and Gotham Direct. Originally, the retailer contacted 16 agencies but later opened up the process to more respondents, eventually attracting more than 100 shops.

One of the participating shops, called Ignited, tracked the amount of time Zappos spent reviewing its submission. With the help of Google Analytics, Ignited found that the retailer had only viewed five pages of its 25-page submission, with an average page-view time of 14 seconds. Ignited then publicly criticized Zappos for what it felt was an inadequate review.

Bid to be a one-stop shop
Zappos has been working to convince consumers it's a one-stop shop for far more than just footwear. Still, while it has grand aspirations -- Mr. Hsieh is fond of saying Zappos is first and foremost a customer-service company and has said an airline isn't out of the question -- its budget is tiny. Last year, Zappos spent just $12 million on measured media. In the first half of this year it spent $2 million.

But the plucky young e-commerce company, which was snapped up for $880 million by Amazon in July, is an appealing client that has seen rapid growth in its 10 years. In 2007, it recorded $527 million in net revenue, followed by $635 million in net revenue last year. Zappos hasn't been immune to the recession, however. Late last year it was forced to cut 8% of its staff and said it was considering the closure of its bricks-and-mortar outlets in Nevada and Kentucky.

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