B&G Handed Eckerd

Eckerd Drug has ended its 20-year relationship with Doner and shifted its $25 million account to Backley & Gingrich Advertising.

The Cincinnati shop takes over the J.C. Penny subsidiary Feb. 1, said Sam Gingrich, agency president. It will be Backley & Gingrich’s lar gest client, Gingrich said.

The agency, which claimed $28 million in billings last year, will open an office in St. Petersburg, Fla., near Eckerd’s Largo, Fla., headquarters in mid-January, Gingrich said.

Doner officials said they would keep their Tampa office open to handle other clients. Doner will do the February and March media buying for Eckerd’s 17 major markets.

Gingrich said the agency was able to take home the account because of a long-standing relationship with “key decision makers” at the retailer.

“We are a smaller agency that specializes in retail and they felt it was time for a change,” Gingrich said of Eckerd’s decision.

The agency first was hired by Eckerd in November for consulting. A short time later, the drug store chain approached Gingrich about doing the advertising for the company, Gingrich said.

Eckerd got a new CEO, Wayne Harris, in October and recently hired a new director of marketing. While sources suggested those moves contributed to the shift, Eckerd declined to further discuss reasons behind the switch in agencies.

Competitive Media Reporting figures showed that last year, Eckerd spent $56 million on advertising and $32 million for the first seven month this year.