Retailer Begins National Search; Agency Retains St. Johns Bay
ATLANTA–J.C. Penney has begun a national agency search after leaving longtime agency Temerlin McClain.
The account, worth $100 million, had been at the Irving, Texas, agency since 1991.
“We are not looking for an advertising agency so much as we are looking for specifically a marketing partner,” said Stephanie Brown of Penney’s public relations department. “With that said, we are looking for an agency that can manage different facets of our business, be it creative, research, media planning and buying, and multi-cultural efforts.”
Brown said Penney would not use a consultant for the review, which will be led by recently appointed senior vice president and chief marketing officer Stephen Farley. Farley, who arrived from Payless Shoe Stores, was behind the effort to part with the incumbent. He plans to name a new agency by March, Brown said.
Agency principal Dennis McClain said the move was “not a big surprise. They’re in a situation where there’s a lot of changes. It is not unexpected that after nine years a client might want to create a new atmosphere, see if something can be done to get things back on track.”
Penney has been struggling both with store sales and on Wall Street. The retailer is looking for a new branding image to go along with new marketing chief Farley and chief operating officer Vanessa Castagna, formerly with Wal-Mart.
Brown said Farley has “a short list” of agencies and will likely have a single round of pitches in what she called a “smooth, swift, efficient and direct process.” She said it was “highly unlikely” the Dallas-based Penney would split the account and use a media buying service.
McClain said the agency would “have to make some modest staff reductions, but this is not a huge financial issue for us.” He said the True North-owned shop had about $750 million in annual billings before the loss.
Temerlin McClain will maintain a small portion of the Penney’s account, the $12 million St. Johns Bay clothing line. That may not be enough to keep the agency around.
“From our perspective, this opens us up to other clients,” McClain said.
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