Sears Eyes Media Shops

NEW YORK At least five agencies are competing against the two incumbents in the review for Sears’ media, according to sources.

In addition to incumbents MindShare and MEC Interaction, both units of WPP Group, contenders include Aegis Group’s Carat, Havas’ MPG, Omnicom Group’s PHD, Publicist Groupe’s Zenith Media and independent Horizon Media, per sources.

Agency and client executives either declined comment or could not be reached.

Two weeks ago, Sears confirmed placing its media planning and buying duties on its nearly $740 million advertising account in play. The competition covers both the Sears and Kmart retail chains.

MindShare handles traditional media and MEC Interaction works on the interactive business.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill., company consolidated traditional media chores at MindShare last June. The shop had handled Sears’ media for several years, but added $200 million from Kmart in that consolidation.

The company’s creative assignments are split between WPP shops Grey in New York, which handles Kmart, and Young & Rubicam in Chicago, which handles Sears. Those assignments are not affected by the media review.

Sears Holdings was formed in March 2005 after Kmart Holding Corp. acquired Sears, Roebuck and Co. for an estimated $12.3 billion.

The company spent nearly $740 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. That figure fell nearly 3 percent from the previous year.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based consultancy Select Resources International is managing the review process.