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$740 Mil. Sears Media to MPG

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NEW YORK Sears Holdings has selected Havas' MPG to handle media duties after a review, the client has confirmed.

The other contenders were: incumbents MindShare and MEC Interaction, both units of WPP Group; Aegis Group's Carat; and independent Horizon Media, per sources.

In early April, Sears confirmed placing media planning and buying duties on its nearly $740 million advertising account in play. The competition covered both the Sears and Kmart retail chains.

MPG said the account would be managed out of both its New York and Chicago offices.

"As media planning and buying agency of record we believe this arrangement with MPG aligns us with an organization that can help us connect with and profitably service our customers and achieve our goal of being a more efficient and effective company," said Maureen McGuire, evp, CMO at Sears, in a statement. MPG, she said, "has a proven track record employing media solutions grounded in insghts and facts that will integrate traditional and emerging media strategies seamlessly with the Sears Holdings creative and marketing process."

The client said the scope of work includes media planning and buying for all television, radio, magazines, out-of-home, online and emerging media across all target customer audiences.

"This is a milestone day for our company," and Charlie Rutman, MPG's North American CEO. "What is most exciting to us is [that the client's] commitment to using media to grow their business is second to none."

MindShare handled traditional media and MEC Interaction worked on the interactive business.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill., company consolidated traditional media chores at MindShare last June. The shop had handled Sears' media for several years, but added $200 million from Kmart at that time.

In a statement, MindShare said: "Sears has been a valued MindShare client for more than 20 years and we are, of course, disappointed to have lost the business. Sears is an American icon, and our business partnership with the company has always been a productive and rewarding experience for us. All of us at MindShare are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an important client. We wish everyone at Sears and Kmart continued good fortune in all of their future endeavors."

One month ago, Kmart shifted its creative to IPG's DraftFCB in Chicago without a review. WPP's Young & Rubicam in Chicago handles creative on Sears. Those assignments were not affected by the media review.

Sears Holdings was formed in March 2005 after Kmart Holding Corp. acquired Sears, Roebuck and Co. for an estimated $12.3 billion.

The company spent nearly $740 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, down 3 percent from the previous year.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based consultancy Select Resources International managed the media review process.