AutoZone Prepares to Name MPG for $90 Mil. Account

BOSTON AutoZone is poised to name Havas’ Media Planning Group to handle buying and planning chores on its $90 million ad account following a review, sources said.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based client, which ranks as the nation’s largest auto-parts chain, with more than 3,400 stores in the U.S. and Mexico, had handled the work in-house.

In addition to MPG, AutoZone talked to Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest, Aegis Group’s Carat and independent Horizon Media, among others, sources said [Adweek, Nov. 1].

The review had been in limbo for more than two months, as the client indicated to suitors that it was not sold on moving its media planning and buying to an outside agency. “They like the idea of control, but you don’t see many companies [that size] doing their own media,” said one agency executive at the time.

AutoZone executives could not immediately be reached; an MPG representative declined comment.

The client spent $85 million on ads in 2003 and nearly $90 million through the first 11 months of 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

AutoZone would be a timely win for MPG and its French parent company as they brace for the defections of two key accounts. Last week, Volkswagen said it would move its $500 million North American media business to Grey Global Group’s Medicom [Adweek Online, Jan. 28]. Intel’s $300 million-plus global business will also soon depart, as incumbent Havas shops MPG and Euro RSCG are no longer participating in the client’s ongoing review.