Radio Shack in $100 Mil. Shuffle

Tandy Corp. is evaluating $100 million in media-planning and buying tasks for its Radio Shack stores, a large chunk of which is now at TBS Media Management–but the business may already have a new home, sources said.
Radio Shack, which has struck a flurry of alliances to focus its retail mix better, has been unhappy with TBS’ planning for network tasks in particular, sources said. Radio Shack may want to do more direct business and is seeking to consolidate its media functions at a larger shop.
Enter Carat USA, which already has ties to the client through its MMA research unit in Wilton, Conn., and its Carat Freeman office in
Newton, Mass. Carat and Radio Shack officials held meetings last week in Fort Worth, Texas, that had gone “favorably,” a source said, but the two sides did not yet reach an agreement.
Charlie Rutman, evp and managing director at Carat, would neither confirm nor deny the talks.
Radio Shack’s $60 million national broadcast account has been TBS’ biggest client since the agency lost its Pacific Bell business two years ago. Staff layoffs followed that loss and could follow this one. “This definitely puts [TBS] in a precarious position,” a source said. TBS president and CEO Frank Muratore declined comment.
Tandy’s in-house agency handles the print-buying portion of the account, while creative is at in-house agency Circle R Group.
In March, Tandy tapped Dieste & Partners in Dallas for its Latino marketing account, valued at $5-10 million. At that time, Radio Shack vice president of marketing and advertising Jim McDonald said general market duties were unaffected. [Adweek, March 15]. McDonald did not return calls. –with Kathleen Sampe