Wal-Mart Taps SRI to Lead Review

DALLAS Wal-Mart has confirmed hiring Santa Monica, Calif.-based consulting company Select Resources International to manage its advertising review.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant is conducting its first such competition in 30 years. Wal-Mart spent $570 million in domestic measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Bernstein-Rein of Kansas City, Mo., has worked for the client for 30 years and Omnicom Group’s GSD&M of Austin, Texas, has been on the roster for 19 years. Both agencies plan to defend.

Creative and media chores, as well as Hispanic ad duties, are in play.

A Wal-Mart representative late Friday confirmed that SRI had been hired, but disclosed no other details about the review. SRI executives did not return calls.

Wal-Mart last September engaged former Frito-Lay CMO Stephen Quinn as svp of marketing, six months after naming former Target executive John Fleming CMO to replace the retiring Bob Connolly.

Wal-Mart of late has given its print and television ads a more upscale look in an effort to move away from its price-oriented messages.

The most recent work, launched in February, introduced “Look beyond the basics” as a tagline. Both the TV and print ads present mini-testimonials; each features a shopper who tells the story of a trip to Wal-Mart that leads to a pleasant surprise. The ads tout Metro 7, a line of clothing targeting fashion-conscious urban women, as well as bedding.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with Wal-Mart’s confirmation.