Supervalu Loss Forces Duncan Closure

LOS ANGELES Following the loss of its primary client, the Supervalu grocery chains, independent Duncan & Associates is closing, said Hugh Duncan, founder and chief executive officer.

“We’re going to retire the agency,” Duncan said. “We had a great 11 years with Albertsons. The new management has decided to take a cost-cutting tack and is unbundling the media and going to a different form of compensation. We decided to not present or defend.”

Declining to elaborate on the changes in the business structure, Duncan said that continuing was “not viable economically.”

Duncan, who headed Foote Cone & Belding here when it was one of the largest agencies in the Western U.S., started a strategic planning consultancy in 1995. “Albertsons was our first client. They asked me to start an advertising agency for them, so I did.” Since then, the Los Angeles agency handled virtually nothing but the Supervalu stores, which also include Jewel-Osco, Acme, Sav-On/Osco and Shaw’s.

Duncan said that he is involved in another business venture unrelated to advertising and would not go to another agency.

Regarding his creative team, Duncan said, “Fortunately, they are a talented bunch. They’ve had advance notice. We’ll take good care of them.”

Neither Barbie Wentworth, the shop’s president and COO, not Neil Markey, executive creative director, could immediately be reached for comment.

Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu confirmed the appointment of Interpublic Group’s Dailey & Associates on Wednesday [Adweek Online, Sept. 27]. “Our goal is to provide an outstanding shopping experience for our customers and deliver unmatched value at every customer touch point,” said Duncan MacNaughton, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing, in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with Dailey to develop the brand messages and creative strategy that will support us in this mission.”