C-E, Grey Alive for $270 Mil. Kmart

DETROIT Interpublic Group’s Campbell-Ewald and Grey Global Group have made the cut in Kmart’s $270 million agency review, according to sources.

Agencies not advancing include independent Doner, Southfield, Mich.; WPP Group’s J. Walter Thompson, New York and Havas’ Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners in New York, sources said. The incumbent, Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, declined to participate. The agencies, which presented to Kmart last week in Aspen, Colo., declined comment.

Kmart rep. Jack Ferry declined to reveal the finalists. He said that the Troy, Mich., retailer does not have a timeline established for selecting a winner but they were “working quickly to bring about positive change at the company.”

Pitches began on July 30 in Aspen, Colo., with Campbell-Ewald of Warren, Mich., followed by JWT and Doner, sources said. They continued the next day with New York-based Grey and Euro.

Kmart told the contenders that it needs a brand campaign quickly before the holiday shopping season begins, sources said. Shops presented strategy and some creative for two hours each before a client panel of eight people, including two business consultants whose affiliation was not disclosed.

“Everyone was deferring to Eddie Lampert,” said one source, referring to the CEO of ESL Investments, who is also chairman of Kmart’s board of directors. Sources said Lampert asked shops how to increase Kmart’s brand value through co-marketing and whether Kmart should add more subsidiary brands like Joe Boxer.

Meanwhile, Kmart launches its Thalia brand of clothing targeting Hispanics this week in Miami and already has advertising for that from incumbent Omnicom’s TBWA\C\D and Omnicom-backed Cultura in Dallas, which specializes in Hispanic advertising. The client also has ads for Joe Boxer and Martha Stewart via TBWA\C\D. That shop declined to defend the business after legal action involving unpaid bills owed to the agency [Adweek, July 28]. That matter has since been settled out of court, sources said.

—with staff reports.

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