Nordstrom Looking For An Agency

The Upscale Retailer Wants to Develop a Corporate Image Campaign

LOS ANGELES–Nordstrom Inc. is seeking an agency to handle long-term branding assignments, including the development of its first corporate image campaign.
Mike Agate, president of Select Resources International in Los Angeles, confirmed that the consultancy was conducting a “national search” for a Nordstrom “assignment.” He declined to comment further.
Sources said Select has contacted 10 or so shops across the country. Preferably, the winning shop would have a presence on the West Coast.
Traditionally, the 96-year-old Seattle retailer has handled most of its creative and media buying needs in-house. Elgin DDB in Seattle, however, handles creative and media buying duties for Nordstrom’s tactical retail work, mainly newspaper and radio ads. Elgin’s assignment will not be affected, said sources.
The retailer does not currently have a unifying theme or slogan in its advertising. Nordstrom “is looking for an agency to take [its] brand to the next level,” said one source. Executives at the client declined comment.
Nordstrom has not yet determined a budget for the assignment, said sources. The chain spent nearly $40 million on advertising in 1996 and about $25 million through the first half of 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The upscale retailer, which owns more than 90 stores in 19 states, has built a strong reputation for customer service; clerks even hail cabs for customers outside the stores.
Two years ago, six members of the Nordstrom family, which controls nearly 40 percent of the company, were named co-presidents, becoming the fourth generation of namesakes to enter the business. They report to chairman John Whitacre.
Nordstrom recently reported a strong fiscal third quarter after several years of flat sales and profits. For the period ending Oct. 31, net income grew 6 percent to $36 million while net sales increased 11 percent to $1 billion.
During the quarter, Nordstrom opened stores in Long Island, N.Y., Cleveland and West Hartford, Conn.
Nordstrom’s annual $4.5 billion in sales is second to leader Macy’s, which posted $8.2 billion in sales last year, according to Dow Jones & Co.