Conflict at DeVito/Verdi Puts Circuit City in Play

Client Is Talking to Agencies About a $50 Mil. Assignment
NEW YORK–Circuit City, a home appliance and electronics retailer, is looking for agencies to handle creative duties on a portion of its advertising account. Sources estimated the business could be valued at as much as $50 million.
The client is on a fast-track course and has been contacting shops. It may name a group of contenders as early as this week, sources said.
Circuit City’s vice president of marketing, Jeffrey Palmer, however denied the account was in review. “This account is not in review and we are not pursuing an agency at this time,” he said.
Richmond, Va.-based Circuit City, which has 560 stores nationwide, has been without an agency since January, when four-year incumbent DeVito/Verdi won the Office Depot account, creating a conflict.
While Circuit City has told shops it is looking for a lead agency, the client’s in-house agency will continue to handle media buying chores, sources said.
DeVito’s last few spots emphasized the client’s low prices.
One commercial showed a classical music fan turning up the volume on his boom box to blast a rock music fan off a park bench. Another featured a man crying to an aria because he paid too much for his stereo. A third ad showed a camcorder viewfinder framing a baby, who then tells his parents they paid too much for the device.
The winning shop will be asked to create a new image campaign, which could be on the
air by midsummer, sources said.
The chain, which is marking its 50th anniversary, ranks second in category sales behind Best Buy stores.
Circuit City is one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., up there with the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King, and automotive and packaged goods clients in total ad spending, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The company spent more than $320 million on its retail operations last year, most of it on newspaper circulars and co-op ads; it spent another $145 million on its CarMax division, a discount auto retailer.
–with Michael McCarthy