Saks Splits From WestWayne

The Saks Department Store Group’s fling with WestWayne has ended after just five months.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based holding company has backed away from its flirtation with “unified brand strategy” and now plans to re-emphasize re-gional store branding, sources said.

“[Saks] thought [it] wanted to centralize marketing functions and unify brand approaches,” said an executive at WestWayne in Tampa, Fla. “But there was no follow through.”

WestWayne won the estimated $35 million creative account last December after a three-month review that included incumbent Ron Foth Advertising in Columbus, Ohio, and Barkley Evergreen & Partners in Kansas City, Mo. The search was conducted by Mi-chael Markowitz & Associates in Santa Fe, N.M.

“Our win was about brand planning,” said WestWayne president Jeff Johnson at the time. “They had eight different stores offering different services to different clientele. Each store needs a unique, compelling brand image.”

WestWayne’s television and radio efforts, executed in conjunction with Initiative Media in Los Angeles, had already kicked off in major markets in the Southeast and Midwest when a backlash apparently developed among a number of the the chain’s divisions.

The Saks Group oversees more than 250 department stores in 24 states, exclusive of the flagship Saks Fifth Avenue brand.

In the Southeast and Midwest, Saks operates under the Boston Store, Bergner, Carson Pirie Scott, Herberger’s, McRae’s, Parisian, Proffitt’s and Younkers banners.

Loughlin/Constable of Milwaukee and Chicago last week moved quickly, picking up advertising for Carson Pirie Scott, Boston Store, Bergner and Herberger’s. Billings will top more than $20 million.

WestWayne, barely settled into its showplace Atlanta offices, may eliminate as many as a dozen jobs as a result of the Saks account loss, sources said.