Circuit City Starts Searching

Circuit City Stores, a home appliance and electronics retailer, is looking for agencies to handle creative duties on a portion of its ad account that one source estimated at $20 million. Another put the figure as high as $70-80 million.
Although sources said the client was already in the process of contacting shops, Circuit City vice president of marketing Jeffrey Palmer denied the account was even in review.
The Richmond, Va.-based company has been without an agency since January, when four-year incumbent DeVito/Verdi in New York won the $40 million Office Depot account, creating a conflict.
Boston-based Arnold Communications worked for the company last year on its ill-fated attempt to market Divx, a controversial digital movie rental system. The agency created a series of teaser ads tagged, “The best way to watch movies at home.”
The Divx task never turned into the $50-100 million assignment originally hyped by both the client and agency. Instead, according to Arnold chief marketing officer Fran Kelly, the account “just petered out.”
Circuit City two weeks ago said it had pulled the plug for good on the venture. Based on that experience, it’s unlikely that Arnold would participate in the current agency review, sources said.
Circuit City’s in-house agency will continue to handle media buying, sources said.
DeVito’s last TV spots emphasized the client’s everyday low prices. One commercial featured a classical music fan who uses the volume on his boom box to blast a fan of rock music off a park bench. Another featured a man crying to an aria because he paid too much for his stereo.
Circuit City, which has 560 locations nationwide, ranks second in sales in its category behind Best Buy. The company spent about $320 million on ads last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.