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Richards Group Retains Eye Care Centers' Media

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DALLAS-The Richards Group here has held onto its $10 million worth of broadcast planning and buying assignments for Eye Care Centers of America, following the client's decision in September to review the business.
Larry Spiegel, media director and principal at Richards, said the client informed him last week that it intends to keep the account in place after holding discussions with a field of undisclosed agencies.
The Richards Group has handled the broadcast buying account since 1994. The agency also handles creative for the client's EyeMasters chain, but that portion of the business was not up for grabs and remains at Richards.
Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA) executives could not be reached at press time to discuss the media review.
ECCA senior marketing manager Brett Calvert said in September that the San Antonio-based company had contacted about seven media agencies about capabilities. Calvert declined to name the shops, but media companies in Los Angeles, New York and in the Midwest are believed to have made presentations to ECCA executives in recent weeks.
Spiegel said The Richards Group, which already has ECCA's 1998 media plans mapped out, was not asked to make a formal presentation.
"Unlike the other shops they talked to, they know what we can do because they've seen us do it," Spiegel said.
In launching the review, ECCA executives cited a desire to make sure they were getting the best value with Richards.
ECCA is the nation's fourth-largest optical retailer, operating 200 retail outlets under the EyeMasters, Visionworks and Binyon's brand names. It ranks behind LensCrafters, Cole Vision-which acquired Pearle Vision's 711 stores last November-and Wal-Mart in domestic sales.