AutoZone Begins Creative Search

AutoZone has launched a review of creative duties on its advertising account, sources said.

Major media spending on the brand totaled nearly $70 million last year, down from $80 million in 2008, according to Nielsen. The total for the first half of 2010 was $36 million. Those figures don’t include online spending.

The incumbent is independent Sponge in Chicago, which has handled the business since 2008.

It was not clear if Sponge would defend. The agency did not immediately return a phone message, and the Memphis, Tenn.-based retailer could not be reached.

AutoZone has contacted ad agencies via the Linderman Media Group, a consultancy in Vernon Hills, Ill., said sources. The consultant is said to be distributing a request for proposals to agencies interested in pursuing the account. Linderman principal Allan Linderman did not return messages seeking comment.

Media duties are not in play and remain at Havas’ MPG in Boston, said sources. MPG has handled the media business since 2005.

Established in 1979, AutoZone has more than 4,200 auto parts and supplies stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico.

In its last fiscal year (ending Aug. 28), the company reported net income of $738 million, up 12 percent from the previous fiscal year. In the same period, revenue grew 8 percent to $7.4 billion, according to AutoZone.