Vista Eyecare Focuses on Compiling Short List

Atlanta Incumbent Passes Up Chance at 930-Store National Chain
ATLANTA–Vista Eyecare of Law-renceville, Ga., is conducting an agency search for its $9 million account. The eyewear retailer expects to have a short list of five to six shops from the Southeast and Los Angeles by the end of this week.
Vista Eyecare is the name assumed by National Vision Associates since its acquisition last year of three competitors: New West Eye Works, Frame-n-Lens and MidWest Vision. NVA operated its eyecare centers in Wal-Mart retail stores, with the new acquisitions mostly freestanding sites located in malls.
NVA’s account had been at Pollak Levitt Nel Advertising in Atlanta, which has decided not to defend. New West’s agency, Kovel/Fuller, and Frame-n-Lens’ shop, Grey Advertising, both Los Angeles, are seeking the unified business and are expected to pitch, said client director of marketing Kris Felling. MidWest Vision’s account had been handled in-house.
Pollak chief operating officer Rob Austin said his shop’s resources would be better used pursuing new business. He said the agency differed with the client over creative strategy.
“Since we have merged four companies, we thought this would be the right time for re-evaluating our creative,” Felling said. “We are looking at agencies to see our business as it is now, not what it was.”
Felling said it is possible the account will be split between two agencies, one to handle the Wal-Mart “host locations” and another for the stand-alone locales.
“They require two different marketing techniques, and it’s quite possible that will require two different [agencies],” said Felling. “That’s why we’ve been talking to so many different people.”
Vista Eyecare has 930 stores, split roughly in half between the two operating principals, and is the second-largest U.S. eyewear retailer. Recent company reports state the Wal-Mart centers generate most of the profits, while the other sites are not performing up to expectations.