NORDSTROM OPENS AGENCY SEARCH: DECENTRALIZED RETAIL CHAIN LOOKS TO START NEW NAT'L BRANDING EFFORT

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Nordstrom, which traditionally has decentralized its marketing efforts, is seeking an agency to handle its first national branding campaign, according to executives familiar with the search.

Budget for the national effort was undisclosed. The long list of agencies invited will be announced this week; believed to be included are Bates USA, New York and Los Angeles; Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York; and Hal Riney & Partners and Citron Haligman Bedecarre, both San Francisco.

A decision is expected in 1998.

DIVISIONS HANDLE MARKETING

Each of the Seattle-based retailer's four divisions conducts its own marketing functions. Currently, Elgin DDB handles broadcast advertising for all the divisions, and its account won't be affected, said Catherine Bension, senior partner at Select Resources International, the consultancy handling the search.

"We are decentralized and will continue to be that way," a Nordstrom spokeswoman said, refusing to comment on marketing plans.

After a disappointing fourth quarter last year, Nordstrom announced plans to shift some marketing dollars from the first half of 1997 to the second half. It spent $36.9 million in 1996.*Spending for the first seven months of '97 was up 5% over a year earlier to $23.4 million, says Competitive Media Reporting.

Nordstrom also is reported to be more aggressively seeking co-op ad funds from apparel marketers.

'DOING VERY WELL'

"They're doing very well," said Harry A. Ikenson, senior retail analyst with Rodman & Renshaw.

The retailer also has pushed harder with catalog sales, after establishing a new fulfillment center. As a result, Nordstrom increased overall catalog sales in

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