Sx Jogs Into Review

Sx Sports Med, a sports-medicine retailer that is venturing into e-commerce amid plans to open a chain of stores to rival General Nutrition Centers, is seeking an agency.
The three-year-old company expects to spend approximately $20 million promoting the stores and a soon-to-be launched Web site. Sx, based in Westport, Conn., wants an agency with a combined background in healthcare, sports and interactive business. While the search is at an early stage, sources said the retailer has already held discussions with McCann-Erickson Healthcare, Bozell and DiMassimo Brand Advertising, all in New York. In addition, Sx has contacted BBDO’s new interactive agency, tmosphere.
The company already runs a retail outlet in Westport and plans to expand its brick-and-mortar operations by opening stores nationwide. A New York City outlet is planned before the end of 1999, said a source. Simultaneously, Sx will develop an e-tail site on the Web, which is scheduled to launch by Thanksgiving. Print-and-TV ads are expected to break shortly thereafter.
“We need to create an image,” said Alan Bender, Sx vice president of marketing. “But part of the advertising here is retail advertising.” While the firm will compete with GNC, Bender said Sx will brand itself as a sports-medicine retailer, instead of focusing on general nutrition supplements.
GNC, under a joint venture with Rite Aid Corp., just launched a $30 million campaign for its new PharmAssure line of supplements via Publicis, New York.
Sx is privately held and the company’s principal executives are Diane Benson, a former executive with Marketing Corporation of America, and Bender, who most recently directed marketing and licensing efforts at Spalding Sports
Worldwide, Chicopee, Mass.