$30 Mil. Petco to M&C Saatchi

LOS ANGELES Petco has confirmed the appointment of independent M&C Saatchi as its lead creative agency following a review. Estimated billings are $30 million.

In the final round of the competition launched in May, M&C Saatchi’s Santa Monica, Calif., office outpaced Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, sources said. Petco officials had not disclosed contenders at any stage of the process.

“Our priority was to find an agency with broad capabilities, a track record of success and the ability to deliver fresh strategic thinking,” said David Bolen, Petco executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, in a statement. “We conducted an extensive review and were extremely pleased with what we saw from M&C Saatchi.”

The search was conducted without the input of a chief marketing officer, as Stan Latacha, Petco’s vice president of marketing, had left prior to the start of the search and has not yet been replaced.

Huw Griffith, CEO of M&C Saatchi’s West Coast operations, said, “We’ve taken a brutally simple approach with our thinking and creative idea, with the intent of truly differentiating and building Petco’s brand.”

The Phelps Group in Los Angeles was the creative incumbent; that shop was eliminated, along with undisclosed others, during the semifinal round, per sources.

Media duties, handled by Aegis Group’s Carat, were not in review.

The San Diego-based operator of some 800 pet stores spent $30 million on domestic ads in 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.