"Quite frankly, I'm overloaded," said Roberts. "But that was my intent, and I'm sure we'll get more materials."
Roberts wouldn't disclose which agencies have applied, but GSD&M in Austin, Texas; W.B. Doner/Baltimore; and Ogilvy & Mather/South are believed to be among those who have thrown their hat in the ring.
The 6,500-store Radio Shack chain is the largest division of Fort Worth, Texas-based Tandy Corp. and generates about 70% of its revenues. Its ad account, now at $180 million in total billings, has been inhouse at Central Advertising since Tandy acquired Radio Shack.
GSD&M already handles the Tandy brand computers account, which Roberts has said gives the agency a leg up in the review. But Roberts also had a good relationship with Ogilvy & Mather/South, which survived a review at Shoney's when he first arrived there. And Doner was Arby's agency when Roberts was president of that restaurant chain.
Roberts is interested in ideas any agency might have on the company's planned repositioning, but is expected to consider agencies with retail and high-tech experience. Agencies with computer manufacturing accounts should not be blocked by a conflict since Tandy has sold all its computer manufacturing to AST Research, and is looking to sell off all of its manufacturing, such as Memtek Products.
Roberts said he'd like to hire an agency by October, "but that's perhaps a little ambitious." He said he will winnow the field down to six or seven agencies, and then conduct a week of two-hour presentations, probably in October or November.
Roberts confirmed that GSD&M, which has done ads for Radio Shack's Sensation computers, has been in some strategy meetings already. The Austin shop is working on creative for Sensation that doubles as image work for the retail chain.
The challenge for the agencies selected will be to return Radio Shack to its roots as a user-friendly store that demystifies technology.
The chain is adding more services to reinforce that service is what sets it apart from competitors. The two significant services are a gift program and the out-of-warranty repair.
Roberts said he hopes to double the retail business in three to five years.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)