Y&R, Chicago, Picks Up Famous Footwear

Shop to Handle National Advertising, Digital Marketing and Consumer Imagery

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Famous Footwear has named Y&R, Chicago, its new creative agency after a review, a move that 's part of an effort to attract new customers to the retailer and beef up its loyalty program.

Famous Footwear Senior VP-Marketing Will Smith
Famous Footwear Senior VP-Marketing Will Smith

"We are really trying to improve overall and up the ante against our multichannel outreach," said Will Smith, senior VP-retail marketing at Famous Footwear. "While we think we've made strides, we know consumers are telling stories in more unique ways every day. And we need to keep up. Y&R brings us a wealth of experience in that and in building great brands, and has a sound strategy in how to make that happen."

Mr. Smith said the retailer's ad spending will go up in 2012, but declined to provide details beyond an increase in display advertising, a "strong national cable presence" and a "more innovative print program."

The WPP agency will handle Famous Footwear's national advertising, digital marketing and consumer imagery, as well as contribute to various marketing and consumer relationship-building programs. A new campaign is expected to launch next summer. Famous Footwear's media agency, SMG's Spark, will continue to work with the brand, as will Omnicom's Rapp, its CRM agency.

The review began in August, after the retailer parted ways with Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, which had picked up the business in January 2008. Campbell Mithun had been invited to participate in the review but declined, according to the agency's press release announcing the split. Agencies said to be involved in the review include MDC's Colle & McVoy, Richards Group and Havas' Euro RSCG.

"We all got excited about Famous Footwear because we know and love retail," said Kary McIlwain, president, Y&R, Chicago. "It's a brand that 's so right for the consumer right now. Offering great brands at good prices is spot-on, trend-wise."

Y&R's win of Famous Footwear, which has about $31 million in measured media, according to Kantar, comes less than a week after Ad Age reported the agency picked up creative duties for the Y. Both wins come about a year after Y&R named Bob Winter -- the veteran creative best known for Budweiser's "Real Men of Genius" campaign -- as its Chicago chief creative officer; Mr. Winter replaced Ken Erke, who moved to Interpublic's R/GA. Earlier this year Y&R, Chicago, picked up the Dave & Buster's account and Chamberlain College of Nursing, a for-profit college associated with DeVry University.

In May, Y&R, Chicago, lost a chunk of business to Dentsu's McGarryBowen in the Sears review, delivering a sizable blow to the agency. Y&R was Sears' longtime lead shop, but held onto some business, including Kenmore, Craftsman Die Hard brands, as well as project work for other Sears business units. Y&R had been with Sears since 1993 and accounted for the bulk of the agency's revenue.

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