Drugstore.com is contacting midsize and large West Coast shops about participating in a review for its estimated $30 million ad account.
Erik Moris, senior director of communications for the Bellevue, Wash.-based client, said he was holding informal talks. "I just [want to] know who the players are. Will I go into review by the end of the year? Probably."
The business is currently handled on a project basis by McCann-Erickson, Seattle, which recently launched a national campaign for the online drugstore. That effort touted the benefits of shopping for personal items in the privacy of one's home, versus the risk of encountering embarrassing situations at a real drugstore.
Unfortunately for McCann, sources said, Drugstore.com's new investors, Rite Aid Corp. in Camp Hill, Pa., and General Nutrition Centers in Pittsburgh, Pa., don't like the "anti-real store" concept due to the nature of their own operations. Sources said the two companies are encouraging Drugstore.com to explore other ad messages.
Left Field Advertising, San Francisco, handles online work for Drugstore.com; at one time, it handled the entire account. But the client abruptly handed over traditional duties to McCann just before Left Field went into production on broadcast work, which also took an anti-bricks-and-mortar approach, said sources.
Left Field executives declined comment. Executives with McCann did not return calls by press time.
Drugstore.com went public last week, raising $90 million on shares offered initially at $18 each. The price was around $50 last Friday. The company may spend more than $30 million on advertising next year, said sources.
The Drugstore.com account is unrelated to the Rite Aid-GNC business awarded to Publicis, New York, earlier this year.