David Cravit Closes Chicago Shop

By Trevor Jensen

CHICAGO–Levitz Furniture in Boca Raton, Fla., said it will announce this week plans for its approximately $25 million broadcast ad account following the closing of incumbent agency David Cravit & Associates here.

Unable to pick up a client to cover the loss last year of Montgomery Ward, chief executive officer David Cravit shut down his shop last week and looked on as the once strong agency’s remaining assets were parceled out to creditors by an outside liquidator.

The agency resigned Ward in the midst of the retailer’s review for its consolidated $50 million account (ultimately awarded to DDB Needham Chicago) to take on Levitz, said Cravit. ‘We felt that with Levitz and some other new business, we could cover the billings.’ The new business did not come through, though, leading Cravit into merger or acquisition negotiations with other Chicago shops, he said.

The negotiations were unsuccessful, leaving 30 staffers unemployed and a handful of clients, including Levitz, looking for a new shop. Levitz previously retained Gold Coast Advertising in Miami. Other Cravit clients included Preferred Hotels & Resorts, based in Chicago; Heller Financial, Chicago; the Delta region of Kroger’s supermarkets; and Cash ‘N Carry stores of Tampa, Fla. Heller Financial has been contacting shops, sources said. The status of other accounts was not clear at press time.

Cravit opened his shop in March 1992 and in late 1994 absorbed Campbell Mithun Esty’s Chicago office. Billings reached $96 million in 1995, when the agency had a staff of 80.

‘Given my experience, I’d say it’s difficult (for a mid-sized agency to survive),’ Cravit said. ‘A small or big agency is probably an easier place (to achieve success) than a mid-sized, full-service shop. You just don’t have the critical mass to service the client.’

Cravit intends to join former Ward’s executive Gene McCaffery in a new operation, Marketing Advocates, which plans to represent talent and help agencies book celebrities, he said.–with Jim Osterman

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