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Publicis now Talbots’ agency

After a two-month review process, multichannel specialty retailer Talbots Inc. has awarded the Talbots brand advertising account to New York-based Publicis.

The agency review came as Hingham, MA-based Talbots attempts to revamp its marketing approach to boost sales at its nearly 1,400 Talbots and J. Jill stores in the US, Canada and the UK. Boston-based Arnold Worldwide had been Talbots agency of record since 1997.

The retailer spent $25 million on US measured media in 2006, and $14.1 million on measured media in the first half of 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Neither Talbots nor Publicis returned calls for comment. In a statement, Andrea McKenna, SVP of marketing and catalog development at Talbots, said, “Publicis has a significant track record in marketing to the baby boomer customer, which will be instrumental in helping us build on our legacy as the retail destination for the 35-plus customer.”

Rob Feakins, president/chief creative officer at Publicis said in a statement, “We love the re-energized charge in which Talbots in currently engaged.”

While Talbots reported better than expected third quarter results last week, Publicis will still have its work cut out for it. Comparable store sales for the Talbots brand declined 8.2% during the third quarter ended November 3, the company said last week. Retail store sales totaled $366 million compared to $383 million last year.

The situation looks slightly less wan for Talbots’ J. Jill brand, which reported a same-store drop of 6.5% during the period, with retail store sales totaling $81 million compared to $77 million last year.

Consolidated direct marketing sales for the 13-week period totaled $109 million, essentially flat with last year. Consolidated company sales totaled $556 million and consolidated comparable store sales declined 7.9%.


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