Longs Drugs Goes Into Play

LOS ANGELES The Longs Drugs chain has begun a review, according to sources.

The company, which declined comment, spent $6 million on advertising in 2005 and $4 million through the first three quarters of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. (The drugstore chain is outspent in measured media by numerous competitors, including CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.)

According to sources, proposal requests, with a return date of Nov. 15, were issued to undisclosed agencies in Northern and Southern California.

The incumbent, independent Pickett Advertising in San Francisco, declined comment, and it was not clear if that shop would participate in the review. Recent Longs’ efforts have used the theme, “Live healthy. Live happy. Live Longs.”

The Walnut Creek, Calif.-based chain, founded in 1938, boasts more than 500 stores, mostly in Western states. It recently built an 800,000-square-foot distribution center in Patterson, Calif., and remodeled about 40 of its stores.

Lawrence Gatta is the company’s group vp, marketing and David Stewart is vp, corporate advertising. Those executives will likely be key review decision makers.

Longs posted $4.7 billion in consolidated revenue in 2006, up just 1.5 percent from the previous year. The company attributed the gain to its “core categories” of health, wellness, beauty and convenience items, while citing an 11 percent drop in non-core categories.

Year-to-date revenue is $3.8 billion, up nearly 10 percent compared to the same period in 2005. During the same period, net income doubled to $74 million.