Richards to Rebrand Retailer

Pep Boys will reconsider its entire brand positioning after shifting its $40 million advertising account to The Richards Group, the client said.

Pep Boys’ recently arrived senior vice president of marketing and advertising, Jeff Palmer, said work by former incumbent DDB Chicago had never focused on a single theme.

Recent sales-oriented spots have included taglines such as “People like us, cars love us” and “All you need to know is where to go.”

“We’re re-evaluating all of that,” said Palmer, who joined Pep Boys last month from Home Depot, another Richards’ client, where he was vice president of marketing and advertising. “The work was fine for the period it was in.

“The reason I wanted to make a change was because in my time at Home Depot, I felt Richards was a very strong retail agency and very attuned to the way I work,” he said.

Demand for a stronger retail focus is not surprising since Pep Boys’ sales figures were down 11 percent from 2000 in what chief executive officer Mitchell G. Leibovitz termed “an extremely challenging year.”

The account represents the biggest success of 2001 for Dallas-based Richards, which has experienced flat billings growth and as many defections (Red Roof Inns, Jiffy Lube, 7-Eleven) as new client wins (Bernhardt Furniture and startup wireless company Metro-PCS) this year.

The Pep Boys win replaces the category loss of the $18 million Jiffy Lube account.

The new account came without a formal review. Agency principal Stan Richards and four senior staff members flew to Pep Boys’ Philadelphia headquarters within two weeks of Palmer’s arrival to make a formal capabilities presentation.

“We had the benefit of having the marketing director fully aware of the capabilities of the agency,” Richards said. “Our mission was to meet with the CEO and acquaint him with who we are and what we do.”

“This is a substantial relationship to us and one that I think has enormous potential,” said Richards.

The gain is also a significant one for Richards’ recently formed Hispanic affiliate, Grupo Gallegos in Los Angeles. Gallegos takes over from SiboneyUSA in New York.

“We talked about how they were looking for someone who understood retail, but also understood how to build brands,” said Gallegos principal John Gallegos.