NEW YORK Slightly more than a month after launching a $580 million media review that was mostly limited to incumbents, The Home Depot has added two outside shops to the competition: Aegis Group's Carat and Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media, according to sources.
They join WPP Group's Mindshare as non-roster contenders for the assignment, sources said.
In addition, Publicis' Starcom, which had teamed with sister shop Digitas, the digital incumbent, has exited the process, per sources.
It was not clear if Zenith would team with Digitas, as the former has its own digital unit, Moxie Interactive, which, like the client, is based in Atlanta.
In addition to Digitas, three other incumbents are defending their Home Depot assignments, according to a client representative. Those incumbents are:
-- Interpublic Group's Initiative, which handles most of the client's traditional buying and planning and is believed to also be pitching digital chores.
-- Independent Response Mine Interactive, which handles search ads.
-- IPG's Newspaper Services of America, which is defending its portion of the account.
The agencies declined to comment or referred questions to the client. A Home Depot rep didn't immediately return calls. Earlier, the company said it would not discuss the review, other than to confirm the initial roster-shop contenders.
The media contest follows the client's completion late last year of a creative review. The Richards Group, an independent in Dallas, successfully defended.
Select Resources in Santa Monica, Calif., which managed the creative competition, is also overseeing the media review.
Home Depot is looking to reposition itself in an increasingly competitive marketplace that includes Lowe's, Wal-Mart and Sears, as well as hardware outlets, paint stores and appliance chains.
The proposal request in the creative review noted that during the past five years the company has "lost its competitive advantage on all key brand drivers" and now compares unfavorably to Lowe's on shopping experience and is about equal in terms of products, inspiration, price and experience.