CarMax Makes Agency Pick

CarMax has selected Amalgamated to handle lead creative duties on its advertising account, but is still negotiating a contract with the agency, the client said today.

The used car retailer’s major media spending totaled nearly $50 million last year and about $30 million in the first half of 2010, according to Nielsen. Those figures don’t include online spending.

The selection comes amid a review that began about three months ago, said a CarMax representative. Sources identified the other finalist as Publicis Groupe’s The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York. Hasan + Co in Raleigh, N.C., is said to have helped manage the process.

The rep declined to discuss the consultant or other details on the review until the Amalgamated contract is finalized. Media duties were not in play and remain in-house.

The addition of CarMax would be a significant boost for the New York independent, which earlier this year lost creative duties on Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Other Amalgamated clients include Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s), Qdoba Mexican Grill and MSG Networks.

Previously, CarMax used independent BooneOakley in Charlotte, N.C. on a project basis. That relationship dates back to 2006. CarMax’s new agency is expected to work on a retainer basis, but it ultimately depends on the outcome of contract negotiations, the rep stressed.

Amalgamated declined to comment and referred queries to the Richmond, Va.-based client.

CarMax, which bills itself as the largest retailer of used cars in the U.S., has more than 100 outlets in 49 markets.