Texas Grocer Shops Radio, TV To Lone Star Agencies

The San Antonio-based H.E. Butt grocery chain has begun discussing broadcast creative assignments with several Texas agencies.
Sources said those contacted by the 248-unit retailer include Dallas-area shops Ackerman McQueen and The Richards Group and McCann-Erickson and Rives Carlberg in Houston. Executives at those agencies either could not be reached or declined to comment.
Suzanne Allford, group vice president of sales and marketing for HEB, did not return calls to discuss the search.
HEB’s 1997 media spending hit $8 million-plus, per Competitive Media Reporting.
The bulk of the company’s units operate under the HEB Food Stores banner, though about one-third are smaller Pantry Foods sites without speciality departments.
Most of HEB’s advertising is currently handled internally, though it also assigns creative work to agencies on a project basis. The Parker & Wood Association, San Antonio, creates radio and TV ads for HEB’s Pantry stores, as well as its food and drug division. Guerra-DeBerry & Associates in San Antonio handles public relations.
All but two of HEB’s stores are located in Texas. In 1996, the company opened a single unit in Lake Charles, La., followed by its first international store last year in Monterrey, Mexico.
HEB has been praised by industry analysts for its innovative ideas, like in-store play areas for kids. In 1994, the company opened the Austin Central Market, which tests product and service offerings–e.g., varieties of wine and a cafe with live music–before introducing them to stores.
One agency executive said the chain’s television advertising tends to be price-driven work and focused on weekly specials. It was not clear last week if the client was still screening capabilities or if formal presentations have been scheduled.