Walgreens Reviews Its Creative Account | Adweek Walgreens Reviews Its Creative Account | Adweek
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Walgreens Reviews Creative Business

Annual media spend approaches $200 million

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Add Walgreens to the list of restless retailers.

The drugstore chain, which has more than 8,200 locations, has contacted agencies about its creative business via a request for information that's due back next week.

The document asks agencies about their experience in retail, healthcare and with Fortune 500 companies. The RFI also identifies potential conflicts, listing Walmart, Target, CVS, Rite Aid and Amazon as direct competitors. 

Walgreens spent more than $192 million in media in 2010 and about $164 million in the first 10 months of 2011, according to Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.

The chain's lead creative agency is Downtown Partners in Chicago, a unit of Omnicom Group. Publicis Groupe's Digitas handles digital creative efforts. Calls to each agency and Walgreens were not immediately returned. 

Not in play, according to the RFI, are media planning and buying (both traditional and digital), search engine marketing/optimization and multicultural efforts. 

Other retailers who have reviewed or shifted creative business in the past three months include Radio Shack, JCPenney, Staples and Dick's Sporting Goods.  

Retail, of course, is among the business sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn, so the restlessness is understandable. As consumer confidence (and buying power) wanes, so do sales at many retailers. What's more, many stores offer the same merchandise, which puts the onus on marketing to develop brand distinctions beyond the price points.

Last year, Walgreens developed its first national campaign for its namesake line of health and wellness products. The effort included TV spots, online videos, Web banner ads and blogging. 

Walgreens posted a 6 percent increase in sales in 2011 to $73.1 billion. In December alone, sales grew nearly 3 percent to $6.98 billion, according to the Deerfield, Ill.-based company.