Wawa Finds Richards Most Convenient

The Richards Group doesn’t have any grand plans for its New York operation, a service office set up two years ago solely for the Hyundai dealers business. But the four-person outpost came in handy during the pitch for Wawa convenience stores’ $10 million account, which last week was awarded to the Dallas independent.

The 540 Wawa Food Markets are spread mostly through the mid-Atlantic states, and the client said it wanted a shop in the Northeast when it began its review in October.

Richards, which has strong category experience that includes project work for 7-Eleven from 1997-2001, met with the client at the shop’s New York office in an early round, with an account executive there offered as a potential team member. With that, they were able to sell the client on a strategy agency principal Brad Todd said will “clarify” the message that Wawa is “synonymous with convenience shopping in its part of the world.” Ads have been tagged, “My choice. My Wawa.”

“It was important that we had an account executive available [in New York],” Todd said. “Whether or not [New York] becomes a service office for this account is to be determined.”

Richards opened its New York office to handle creative on a portion of Hyundai’s $120 million dealers account.

The agency’s true ace may have been its previous relationship with Wawa chief marketing officer Rob Price, who had worked at Richards client H.E.B., a grocery chain. Price was not available for comment.

Richards was selected for Wawa’s creative and media business over Eisner Communications in Baltimore, MARC in Pittsburgh and incumbent media agency MayoSeitz Media in Blue Bell, Pa. The creative incumbent, design shop Ritter Inc. in King of Prussia, Pa., did not participate.

Todd said he expects the agency’s first work for Wawa to break mid-year.

Sales for Wawa, a private company, were not available. Wawa competes closely with convenience chains Sheetz and Uni-Marts, in addition to 7-Eleven.