Method Feels Neglected by Crispin, Looks Elsewhere

Home-Care Brand's $3 Million Budget May be Too Small to Keep Shop's Attention

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CINCINNATI ( -- Can you fire your owner?

That seems to be the thinking at Method Home Products, which has put out feelers to replace Crispin Porter & Bogusky, which was given an equity stake when the shop became Method's agency of record in 2002. According to people familiar with the situation, Method's eye is roving because Crispin has become a little too hot to pay as much attention as it once did to the upstart home-care brand.

Though small-with marketing spending estimated at less than $3 million-the design-focused Method has been a high-profile account that led to a cyber Grand Prix for Crispin at the Cannes International Advertising Festival last year. Method had only $311,500 in measured media spending, all in magazines, last year, and has none so far this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

"We are by no means in a formal review," a spokeswoman for Method said. "We are in active collaboration with Crispin about plans for 2007."

She said Method recently added Francesca Schuler, a former Gap marketing executive, as VP-brand, and, as often happens when a new marketing executive comes on board, "we've been getting a lot of calls [from agencies]." A spokesman for Crispin declined to comment.

Method ranked seventh in the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing privately held companies this year, based on wholesale sales of $33.5 million last year. Sales are expected to near $60 million this year, according to one person familiar with the company.

People familiar with the matter said as Crispin's reputation and business have grown, particularly since it took on the Volkswagen account, Method executives feel they're not getting the attention they once were.

Crispin wasn't even invited to Method's agency review in 2002. In an interview last year, co-founder Eric Ryan said he felt "they were too hot and too big to pay attention to our tiny little budget." But Crispin barged in anyway when Paul Stechschulte, a Crispin art director and Method fan, heard about it from a friend and wrote Mr. Ryan an e-mail about the agency's approach to building challenger brands. As it has with such high-profile designers as Karim Rashid and Andy Spade, Method compensated Crispin in part with equity.

Besides its high-end design and unique positioning as an environmentally friendly brand for people who actually enjoy cleaning, Method has been known for the offbeat marketing approach it developed with Crispin., where people could confess their sins and wash them away with virtual Method hand soap, earned Crispin the cyber Grand Prix.

contributing: matthew creamer
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