Lawn, garden and pet supply distributor Central Garden & Pet Co. is talking with shops on the West Coast about an estimated $30 million ad assignment that could lead to "something more" for the selected agency, according to client executives.
"This is only a project right now," said Russell Katzer, executive vice president and business unit manager for Excel Marketing, a newly created in-house unit of the Lafayette, Calif.-based company. "We've interviewed a few agencies in California, and we may talk to more."
Sources said the client has invited at least 10 agencies, including Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif.; Gardner, Geary, Coll & Young, San Francisco; and Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, Calif. Executives at those shops declined to comment. RPA declined to pitch, according to sources.
The project up for grabs is for a line of lawn and garden products that Central Garden & Pet will market nationally either under its own name or as another brand, sources said. The client is asking shops to "analyze the creative in the lawn and garden pesticide category" in preparation for pitching the assignment.
Katzer declined to give details about the"highly confidential" project, but said it involved products in the outdoor category. He also hinted the assignment may be for a brand or company the client is preparing to acquire.
There is some uncertainty about the project and proposed budget, which has some shops wondering if the assignment is a solid bet, said sources.
Central Garden & Pet recently saw its stock tumble following troubles with one of its biggest suppliers, Solaris, maker of brand-name lawn and garden products such as Ortho and Roundup.
In January, Monsanto sold its Solaris unit to The Scotts Co. Central Garden & Pet is now trying to hammer out a new deal with rival Scotts before the distribution agreement with Solaris runs out Sept. 30.