CVS Conducts Review Ingalls May Lose Drugstore Chain Account

By David Gianatasio

BOSTON–Ingalls, Quinn & Johnson rode a roller coaster of ups and downs last week as it broke its first national campaign for Citizens Communications while preparing for the possible loss of longtime showcase account CVS.

CVS announced it had hired Morgan, Anderson & Co. in New York to oversee a review for its broadcast creative account. The drugstore chain had previously launched a separate review for its broadcast media planning and buying (Adweek, March 10). Morgan, Anderson & Co. is also directing that search.

Ingalls has handled creative and media duties for Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS for eight years. Ingalls declined an invitation to participate in the media review but agency chairman Bink Garrison said his shop has already made a presentation in an effort to retain the creative assignment.

‘We will not participate in the review,’ Garrison said. ‘We’ve made our presentation.’ A source close to the agency, however, called the relationship ‘history.’

Both reviews are being driven by CVS’ proposed $2.8 billion purchase of rival chain Revco D.S. in Twinsburg, Ohio. The client is looking for the maximum cost efficiencies in media buying and is seeking a creatively driven shop with expertise in retail branding, sources said.

Winners of the separate reviews will handle the combined CVS/Revco business once the merger is finalized sometime this summer, said CVS representative Fred McGrail.

Annual billings on a combined CVS/Revco account could reach $40-50 million, according to estimates by industry sources.

Revco uses the Saffer Group in Don Mills, Ontario, for creative work and has no media buying shop.

Saffer is assured a slot in the creative review because CVS senior vice president of advertising Jack Kramer has ties to the shop from the 1980s when he worked at Montgomery-Ward, a former Saffer client, said a source.

‘Saffer is not preferred; that simply is not true,’ Kramer asserted, adding that he never worked directly with the Canadian agency.

No layoffs are anticipated at Ingalls with the possible CVS account loss because of the shop’s recent new business winning streak that includes the $15 million Citizens Communications account.

Last week Ingalls rolled out Citizens ads with the tagline ‘Talk With Us’ in 35 markets nationwide. Ingalls has fashioned a multimedia branding campaign for the Stamford, Conn., company, renamed from Citizens Telecom, that will run in spot markets for nine weeks.

Product-specific advertisements promoting its cellular and long-distance services will follow, said Ingalls creative director Rob Rich.

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