Lowe’s $100 Mil. in Review

Incumbent Doner Among 16 Shops Asked to Pitch
ATLANTA–Fueled in part by ambitious expansion, Lowe’s Cos. officials last week said they had placed the company’s $100 million advertising account into review, and have invited 16 shops to participate.
Included in that list of 16 is the company’s current agency, Doner, Southfield, Mich., which indicated it will defend. Dave Tyler, vice president of advertising at the North Wilkesboro, N.C.-based home improvement retailer, would not disclose the other 15 shops. Lowe’s officials did say the pitch is closed.
“We have had an association with Doner for the last nine years, but felt it prudent to reassess our situation and see what other agencies had to offer,” company representative Brian Peace said. “We have had a long and successful relationship with Doner.”
Shops had until the end of last week to let the client know they if intend to participate; Lowe’s marketers want to trim the list down to five this week. A team from the client will visit those five shops for another round of talks, and one more cut is likely thereafter.
Finalists will be asked to handle a creative assignment, for which they will be compensated. Tyler would not say when the review is scheduled to conclude.
Helping the client select which agencies to invite was Business Partnering International, Richmond, Va., which operates a service called agencyfinder.com.
The winning agency will join the client at a time of unprecedented expansion for the company. Last year it added 76 stores in 22 states, and 80 more are scheduled to open by the end of 1999. Over the next three years, the company is planning 100 stores for the Western U.S.
The selected agency will handle the primary advertising chores for the company, including media planning and placement. The client will continue to create its own weekly newspaper inserts, run-of-press ads, magazine advertising and in-store/visual merchandising.