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Confirmed: Initiative Keeps Home Depot

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NEW YORK Home Depot has awarded media duties to incumbent Initiative after a review, the client has confirmed.

Home Depot spent nearly $600 million last year on ads, according to Nielsen.
 
Interpublic Group's Initiative, which had handled most of the traditional media chores on the account, also added digital duties to its assignment. Those chores had been handled by incumbent Publicis Groupe's Digitas, which defended.
 
Other contenders were Mindshare, Carat and Zenith Optimedia.

Sources said Initiative's winning pitch was led by Dennis Donlin, the former president of GM Planworks. Planworks was an entity within Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest network that serviced the huge General Motors assignment. Donlin left Planworks in early 2008 after SMG decided to absorb the group into its broader operations.

Having led the successful pitch, Donlin is expected to helm strategy for the Home Depot business at Initiative, per sources.

Mindshare's pitch -- said to be well received by the client -- was thrown a curve in March when one executive who had been instrumental in the shop's effort, planning president Ernie Simon, was hired away by OMD.

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 that earlier competition, oversaw the media review.

Home Depot is looking to reposition itself in an increasingly competitive marketplace that includes Lowe's, Walmart 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.

This story updates an earlier item with the client's confirmation and additional details.

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