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IPG's Lowe To Revamp Grocery Chain Image

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How does an agency reinvent a venerable supermarket brand in the face of bigger, price-focused rivals such as Costco and Sam's Club? That's the challenge before Interpublic Group's Lowe, which has been tapped by The Great Atlantic & Pacific Co. to handle creative and media duties for five of its brands.

Lowe, which landed the account this month after a review, will handle traditional advertising and also help the Montvale, N.J., client redesign its stores and signage, and create templates for sales circulars and direct mail, agency executives said. Lowe bested Toronto agency Rethink to land the estimated $20 million account, according to sources. Past spending has been about $10 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence. There was no previous agency.

Lowe's work is expected to highlight a conversion that began last year to turn A&P, Waldbaum, Food Emporium, Farmer Jack and Super Fresh chains into specialty-orientated stores offering amenities such as organically grown produce, prepared foods and fresh-cut flowers. The company's five brands operate in 10 states, including New York, Ohio and Mississippi.

Lowe pitched a strategic idea based on research that included a visit to one of the company's stores in Maryland, said executive creative director Dean Hacohen. The shop's initial focus will be in-store, and first ads are expected this fall. "We're rolling up our sleeves and getting involved with the store," he said.

To manage the business, Lowe has hired Tom Trewhella as senior vice president, account director. Trewhella, 42, previously was an svp, group account director at IPG's Deutsch in New York, working on Bank of America—an account that shifted in September to sister shops Draft and Flag.

A&P sales in its last fiscal year, which ended Feb. 28, grew less than 1 percent to $11 billion, according to Hoover's Online.