Del Webb To Search for Agency


Publicis in Mid America and retirement community builder Del Webb have split after a 22-month relationship.

The Phoenix-based real estate developer has put its $10 million account in play and is looking at regional and national agencies, said Karen Kallet, Del Webb's corporate advertising director.

Publicis was invited to participate in the pitch and may be asked to retain the national branding portion of the business, which amounts to only a fraction of total spending as the company intensifies its concentration on regional efforts, Kallet said. Kallet declined to comment on those invited to participate in the review other than Publicis.

"They reorganized to a regional structure, which eliminates the corporate assignment," said Barry Krause, Publicis' chairman and CEO.

Publicis won the business in May 1999 following a review and developed a campaign that used the tagline "Live on." The agency pushed for more television, a medium Del Webb had not used much in the past, leading to a sometimes tense relationship, sources said.

Kallet declined to comment on the relationship other than to say the account could occasionally be complex and thus frustrating.

Nine employees were laid off partly as a result of the agency's split with Del Webb, Krause confirmed. Krause said the layoffs were reflective not just of the Del Webb situation but of troubled economic times hurting the advertising industry.

Despite the split, Del Webb wants to continue the branding campaign Publicis established, Kallet said.

Before Publicis won the business, Webb's account was broken up between Doner's Newport Beach, Calif., office; Phillips-Ramsey in San Diego; and DDB Dallas.