Sources said last week that Kmart subsidiary Builders Square, the veteran among big hardware warehouse chains, is quietly talking to four agencies about its business, now handled by Ross Roy. Besides the incumbent, one other Detroit-area agency and two Texas-based agencies are in the pitch. Although it isn't clear which other agencies are pitching, observers speculate J. Walter Thompson/Detroit and Temerlin McClain, Dallas, could be involved in the review.
Temerlin recently was a finalist in the $20-million Home Depot business after a nationwide shoot-out. Sources at Temerlin said they had no knowledge of the review and hadn't talked to Builders Square yet. JWT officials wouldn't comment.
A new management team has been reviewing all supplier relationships including the advertising and marketing, said a source. Senior vp/marketing Rick Miser, who has been with the company for a little more than a year, apparently is conducting the review. Mark James, former vp/advertising and marketing, recently left the San Antonio, Texas-based company, although it isn't clear how much that had to do with the review.
Also, insiders say Builders Square hasn't been happy with the return on its investment in its spokesman, comic/actor Tim Allen. The popular star of Home Improvement, who mocks home improvement shows with his 'Tool Time' program, may not be making a return appearance in Builders Square ads after the review, according to one source.
Builders Square tapped Ross Roy in 1990 as its first agency. At the time, the account only billed $2-5 million. But the success of the warehouse-store concept in hardware has increased competition and pressure to spend more behind advertising.
Ross Roy, which at one time had almost all of Kmart's business, has seen its Kmart business whittled away some this past year or so. Last summer, its OfficeMax subsidiary broke away from the Ross Roy family and landed at Cleveland shop Meldrum & Fewsmith.
Ross Roy and Builders Square officials couldn't be reached last week.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)