Payless Awaits Pitches for $50 Mil.+ Media Account

Payless ShoeSource is set to hear from five media agencies vying for its $50 million-plus media planning and buying account, sources said.

The company wants a single agency that can handle all of its media needs, sources said. The retailer’s media business has been split between Barkley, Evergreen & Partners in Kansas City, Mo., which handles planning and print buying, and StarLink, a division of Starcom MediaVest Group, which does broadcast buying.

The Topeka, Kan., company sent RFPs to media agencies in New York and the Midwest late last year, sources said. One executive described the RFP as “standard and straightforward.”

Expected to make presentations later this month are incumbent StarLink and Carat, both Chicago; Me diaCom and Mediaedge: CIA in New York; and Cash Plus in Minneapolis, a unit of Campbell Mithun, sources said.

BE&P was in vited to participate but declined, according to another executive.

The review is not expected to affect creative, which BE&P handles. The shop won creative, strategic, and account and media planning duties in December 1999 after the retailer split with 18-year incumbent Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, Payless executives talked to three media companies before settling on StarLink, which handles media for small to midsize shops, to do broadcast buying.

BE&P’s most recent TV work for the client broke this past summer. It touted its Shoe Finder service, showing a clerk finding a spe cific shoe, via a computer, at another Payless store.

Payless spent $70 million on advertising in 2000 and $50 million through September of last year, according to CMR.

Officials from contending shops either could not be reached or de clined comment. BE&P and StarLink officials referred calls to the client. Payless officials did not return calls.

—with David