Eye Care Media in Play

Eye Care Centers of America, the nation’s fourth-largest optical retailer, has started a national review for the broadcast media buying portion of its $10 million account.
Brett Calvert, senior marketing manager at ECCA in San Antonio, confirmed that he re-cently contacted about seven media agencies to compete for TV and radio buying and planning. “We have a long list and we’re still meeting with a few people. Our focus is on top 10 media buying services,” said Calvert. Print buying will remain in-house.
It was not clear last week if The Richards Group in Dallas, which has handled the business since 1994, had been asked to defend. The search does not impact Richard’s creative duties, said Calvert. He added that the firm will spend about $10 million on ads next year.
The client decided to review buying because “it’s good for our business to review where we are strategically, as well as [the value we are getting],” said Calvert. ECCA hopes to narrow the review to around three finalists and make a decision in early November.
Larry Spiegel, media director at Richards, said, “We’ve done good work for them and we hope that they’ll decide to continue working with us.” ECCA spent $6 million on advertising in 1996 and $4 million through June of this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
ECCA operates more than 200 retail outlets under the EyeMasters, Visionworks and Binyon’s brand names. It ranks behind Lens-Crafters, Cole Vision–which ac-quired Pearle Vision’s 711 stores last November–and Wal-Mart in domestic sales.