Struggling supermarket chain Bruno's heard presentations last week from at least two Birmingham, Ala., agencies after splitting with incumbent D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles of New York, sources said.
O2 Ideas and Luckie & Co. pitched the Birmingham-based business last week, sources said. Executives at both shops either could not be reached or declined comment. Insiders said other local agencies may also be pursuing the chain's advertising account.
Bruno's executive vice president of merchandising, Dave Clark, told Adweek through a company representative that he had no comment on whether a review is taking place.
Although Competitive Media Reporting tracked Bruno's ad spending at a mere $2.4 million from January through October 1997, sources estimated the client's current ad budget at $5 million-plus.
Both figures represent a significant drop from the estimated $15-20 million budget reported when DMB&B won the Burno's account 16 months ago [Adweek, Sept. 30, 1996]. In the final round of that pitch, DMB&B bested 25-year incumbent O2 Ideas and the St. Louis office of TBWA/Chiat Day.
DMB&B said it resigned the Bruno's account, but would not comment further. Sources, however, have said the agency was hired for an image campaign that later turned into a regional retail assignment.
According to published reports, Bruno's same-store sales have been declining since fourth-quarter 1996. Reasons given for the slide include poor store-level performance, distribution problems and competition from new supermarkets entering Bruno's territories over the past two years.
The client has some 200 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee operating as Bruno's, Food World, FoodMax, Food Fair and Vincent's Market. The latter is a home-meal replacement concept within new stores.--with Sloane Lucas