Starcom’s Size Key in Best Buy Win

It’s unusual for an ad agency to run a review for its own kind. But Best Buy Advertising, the in-house shop for the nation’s largest consumer-electronics chain, which last week tapped Starcom North America to handle its estimated $50 million national broadcast buying business, is not typical.

The rest of the Minneapolis-based advertiser’s $400 million-plus ad account, also handled by BBA, remains firmly in-house.

BBA would not reveal contenders in the review, but sources said Starcom in Chicago prevailed over the New York offices of OMD, Zenith Media and The Media Edge. The assignment includes the flagship Best Buy chain and other company-owned operations, including Magnolia Hi-Fi, Sam Goody, Suncoast, Media Play and On Cue.

If it were an independent agency, BBA would be the fourth-largest ad shop in its market. It has won more than 50 awards for creativity and employs 300 people. Still, Best Buy’s rapid growth&#x2014&#x003B;it operates 1,800 stores across all its brands and plans to add about three dozen more Best Buy units by the end of next year&#x2014&#x003B;means that BBA could not go at it alone in national broadcast.

“We have built this agency over 20 years and are very diligent about benchmarking our performance internally and externally,” said Ruby Anik, BBA vp, media/alliance management. Anik, who joined BBA six months ago, spent 17 years at big Chicago agencies; she also was director of advertising and media for three years at The Pillsbury Co., for which Starcom does media planning and its sister Starcom MediaVest Group agency MediaVest does buying.

“We consider many of our func tions here core competencies that can stand up against other agencies,” Anik said. “[But] we decided to out source national broadcast because of the leverage and clout we could achieve with a large agency that places $1 billion, the unique nature of national buying, and the unique resources and tools that large agencies, especially media agencies, can amass.”

“We’re really excited about this win because it enhances our portfolio in the retail area,” said Renetta McCann, Starcom CEO. “We’ve done work for McDonald’s and others, but this gets us into retail in the hard-goods area.”

Best Buy is Starcom’s first big win in 2001, following a perfect 2000 tally in which the shop won all seven of the media-only reviews it pitched.