Things Remembered Picks Wolf Group Cleveland

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Looking to boost brand awareness and sales, personalized gifts retailer Things Remembered Inc. has named Wolf Group Cleveland as its advertising agency of record for a $10 million-plus account.


The agency replaced incumbents Grey Direct, New York, and PreVision Marketing, Concord, MA. Things Remembered abandoned an agency search after a presentation from Wolf Group, according to a senior executive.


"We were looking for a strategic and long-term partner and an agency that understood the retail business and could operate in a multichannel environment," said Susan Gustafson, vice president of marketing at Things Remembered, Highland Heights, OH.


Wolf Group is charged with developing marketing that delivers strong sales and attracts more foot traffic in the retailer's 800 mall stores nationwide. Toward this end, the agency will craft a direct marketing campaign supported by a national branding effort.


The push also will involve the Web site, at www.thingsremembered.com, and online marketing, though details have not yet been fleshed out.


An arm of Wolf Group, Wolf Group Cleveland's clients include Little Tikes Co., Royal for the Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners, Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, 1800homecare.com and Flood Co. Agency billings across all offices last year totaled more than $600 million.


A division of the $1 billion Cole National Corp., Things Remembered has stores in 46 states, a Web site and a catalog that sell clocks, writing instruments, picture frames, albums, trinket boxes and jewelry, and monogrammed sweatshirts and blankets, among other items.


The retailer targets three segments: general gift consumers; weddings and brides-to-be; and business-to-business. Of these, weddings account for one-third of the business and corporate one-fifth. Consumers shopping for general gifts account for the rest.


"We want to increase our penetration in each of those segments, specifically to increase our performance in our BTB and wedding segments," said Suzanne Sutter, president of Things Remembered.


Things Remembered posted revenue of $260 million in 1999 and expects $280 million this year.


"What we want to do is make sure that their current customer base stays strong and that we pay attention to it," said Sylvia Morrison, president of Wolf Direct Marketing, Cleveland.


"We want to make sure that we segment that base and target the database even further -- specifically converting, for example, wedding party customers into regular special-occasion customers."


The common thread of all campaigns run by Wolf Group will be celebrating life's special moments between the gift-giver and the recipient.


"Our positioning is very much centered on personalization and the event of gift-giving," Gustafson said.


Starting in 2001, Wolf Group will drop more than 7 million direct mail pieces to customers and prospects. Things Remembered has 5.5 million active names in its database.


In support will be print ads in the December Parade magazine and Modern Bride's February/March issue, which has an estimated circulation of 500,000; online links to modernbride.com; and promotions of new merchandise and gift tips in the retailer's spring, wedding, corporate and holiday catalogs.


"They're special-occasion retailers, so it's important that we make the consumer and prospects understand the sentiment involved in the purchase," Morrison said. "That's really the experience of shopping at Things Remembered."
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