Petsmart Kicks Off Review

Pet-supply superstore chain Petsmart has launched a nationwide review for its creative account; incumbent Publicis in Seattle will defend.

The Phoenix-based retailer has spent as much as $25 million annually on advertising in the past, but sources said the budget has dropped in recent months. Publicis also handles Petsmart media buying, which until now has focused on spot broadcast, and

It is unclear whether the assignment will include the Web site, 48 percent of which is owned by the brick-and-mortar retailer.

Sources said the review is likely to take about two months, and that an East Coast shop may already be doing some creative project work for the advertiser.

Petsmart began a review in the summer of 1997, but aborted it after only a few weeks when the company’s president resigned. In that contest, more than two dozen shops from the West and Midwest submitted credentials.

A year later, the company held what it called informal “con-versations” with several agencies, but again decided against launching a review.

The incumbent, Petsmart’s first agency, has handled the account for more than eight years, initially through Publicis-owned EvansGroup in Los Angeles, and then later Publicis’ Northwest (Seattle) office. In March 1999, the retailer launched its first national TV effort built around its theme, “Where pets are family.”

“It’s time [for a review],” said one source about the motivation behind the search. “They’ve never done an official review, and they want to see what their options are.”

“Within the last six months, we have launched a new strategy for the company,” said Petsmart rep Lynne Adams. “We are moving our business from a warehouse-commodity-based one to a speciality store. It’s a shift in how we think about the business, and it’s an excellent time to look at our creative resources.”

Petsmart operates more than 500 superstores in the U.S. and Canada. For the 13 weeks ending April 30, 2000, the company reported revenue decreasing by 5 percent to $534 million.

More than $23 billion is spent annually on pet products and services in the U.S., according to the Cambridge, Mass.-based researcher Forrester Research.

This amount is more than Americans spend on videos, music and toys combined—and more than any category except books.