Guitar Center Launches Media Review

Guitar Center has launched a review of media planning and buying duties on its core brand and several subsidiaries, confirmed Ark Advisors, the consultancy managing the process.

The subsidiaries include Music123, Music & Arts, Woodwind & Brasswind and the Web-based Musician’s Friend. Ark declined to discuss media spending, but sources pegged annual spending at about $40 million. The assignment includes both traditional and online duties.

Not in play are creative duties, which are handled in house, said Ken Robinson of Ark in New York. The client hopes to complete the process in early 2011.

The review comes three years after Bain Capital acquired Guitar Center Inc. for an estimated $2.1 billion, including debt. With its online presence and more than 200 stores in the U.S., Guitar Center bills itself as the leading domestic retailer of musical instruments and gear.

In August, the company named Greg Trojan to succeed Mary Albertson as CEO. Before that, Trojan was president and chief operating officer. The company is based in Westlake Village, Calif.

The incumbents on the business are independent KSL Media in Encino, Calif., which handles traditional duties on the core brand; and The Rimm-Kaufman Group, an independent in Charlottesville, Va. that handles online duties—including paid search—across Guitar Center’s entire portfolio.