Sears Puts Media in Play

CHICAGO Sears Holdings has confirmed placing media planning and buying duties on its nearly $740 million advertising account in play. The competition covers both the Sears and Kmart retail chains.

MindShare handles traditional media and MEC Interaction works on the interactive business. Both shops are units of WPP Group.

“Sears Holdings continues to look for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of all aspects of our business,” according to a statement from the company. “We can confirm that we recently initiated a review of our current media services, which we hope to conclude sometime in the second quarter.”

The incumbents have been invited to defend, the rep said. The retailer is using an undisclosed consultancy to aid in the search.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill., company consolidated traditional media chores at MindShare last June. The shop had handled Sears’ media for several years, but added $200 million from Kmart in the consolidation.

The company’s creative assignments are split between WPP shops Grey in New York, which handles Kmart, and Y&R in Chicago, which handles Sears. Those assignments are not affected by the media review, the rep said.

Sears Holdings was formed in March 2005 after Kmart Holding Corp. acquired Sears, Roebuck and Co. for an estimated $12.3 billion.

The company spent nearly $740 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. That figure fell nearly 3 percent from the previous year.