GSD&M Won’t Re-Pitch Wal-Mart Account

CHICAGO Longtime Wal-Mart roster agency GSD&M today said it has declined an invitation to participate in a second pitch for the retailer’s ad account.

Roy Spence, co-founder and president of GSD&M, issued this statement: “I want to thank Wal-Mart for inviting us to re-pitch the business. I have decided to decline. We helped build Wal-Mart from $11 billion in sales to $312 billion. We declare victory. We will do everything to make the transition perfect. We wish our great friends well. And we are moving on.” GSD&M in Austin, Texas, is a unit of Omnicom Group.

For the second time this year, Wal-Mart has engaged consultancy Select Resources International to manage a review of its $570 million ad account—and, according to sources, invited the finalists from the first contest to compete.

Wal-Mart has scheduled pitches for Dec. 21, with a decision expected shortly thereafter, per sources.

The latest competition run by the Santa Monica, Calif., firm was launched to replace Interpublic Group’s DraftFCB here, which in October won creative chores in the first Wal-Mart review. DraftFCB last week was stripped of the high-profile business amid considerable confusion and controversy [Adweek Online, Dec.7].

DraftFCB is not eligible to participate in the second review, Wal-Mart has said.

Along with GSD&M, WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather in New York and IPG’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., were finalists in the first review.

An IPG representative confirmed that Martin would re-pitch. Sources said Ogilvy would also compete, but an agency rep declined comment and referred questions to Wal-Mart. The client has declined to discuss the process, as has SRI.

Aegis Group media agency Carat in New York, which teamed with DraftFCB to win last time around, is also expected to participate.

Another Wal-Mart incumbent, Bernstein-Rein in Kansas City, Mo., was eliminated before the first review’s final round.

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer last week abruptly dismissed DraftFCB, following the departure of two key client marketing executives—Julie Roehm and Sean Womack. Sources said the pair had violated the company’s policy on accepting gratuities from potential vendors [Adweek Online, Dec. 11].

Of late, Roehm had attempted to push the retailer’s advertising in a hipper new direction. Recent efforts focused on fashion, selection and convenience, rather than low prices.

This story updates an item posted yesterday with the news that GSD&M is not participating in the second Wal-Mart review.