Staples To Shops: Play Nice With Us

The six contenders for Staples’ $60 million national broadcast-creative account will need to prove their collaborative skills when executives from the office-superstore chain visit them this week.

The getting-to-know-you meetings, set to take place over two days, are billed as credentials checks. But according to the RFP, a shop’s ability to work with Staples’ 130-person in-house agency is as important as its ability to do “breakthrough work.”

An agency’s “partnership mentality and ability to collaborate with Staples’ internal marketing and creative groups” is listed among five “decision criteria.” The contenders, which emerged last week from a pack of 15-20, are Havas’ Arnold in Boston, WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam and J. Walter Thompson, Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\ Day, and Publicis Groupe’s Fallon and Publicis, all New York, the client confirmed. Staples split with the incumbent, Omnicom’s Martin/ Williams, Minneapolis, in April.

Other criteria include a grasp of Staples’ business issues, retail experience and an “ability to work within Staples’ budget parameters,” according to the RFP. The winner will be paid a labor-based fee tied to a specific scope of work. Sources estimated the fee at less than $3 million.

Sources said a half-dozen Staples execs will play a part in the decision, including Judy Shapiro, svp of corporate branding and advertising; Shira Goodman, evp of marketing; and president and CEO Ron Sargent. Several have agency experience, such as brand management vp Todd Peters (Publicis & Hal Riney) and cd Alexis Denicke (Mullen).