ART.COM SEEKS SHOP FOR BRANDING AD CAMPAIGN

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Art.com has launched a search for a new agency to put a more traditional marketing frame on its cyber-gallery.

The online art retailer has sent out a request for proposals to general advertising agencies. The chosen one will launch a brand-building campaign in the fourth quarter-using traditional media.

The company wants to do general advertising to hike its name recognition and boost traffic to its Web site (art.com), said Michael Kahn, VP-marketing.

While he's looking for an agency with experience in the Internet and technology, Mr. Kahn mainly is interested in a shop experienced in building consumer brands.

Mr. Kahn anticipated 1999 spending will be $2 million to $3 million, and will increase to the $5 million to $10 million range next year.

The review is being handled in-house and a decision should come around June 1, he said.

ART.COM'S OPPORTUNITY

The art market is fragmented among many little-known competitors, which gives Art.com an opportunity to "establish ourselves as the online destination to buy art," he said.

The Web site has an online store where consumers can order framed and unframed art prints for home delivery. Additionally, the site will add an art objects area with sculpture and other items and an art auction area by the end of the summer, Mr. Kahn said.

Art.com works with several agencies now, including Laughlin Constable, Chicago, which handled its ad efforts on a project basis. Laughlin won't participate in the review.

He anticipated the company will keep the current positioning and tagline, "Where you start for art."

Mr. Kahn said Art.com also will keep working with its interactive agency,

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