Ward Had L/C In Its Sights Since June

Impressed with its ability to help rescue a financially shaky Carson Pirie Scott & Co., Montgomery Ward & Co. called Laughlin/Constable after Carson’s let the agency go, L/C president Dean Proctor said last week.
Wards last month abruptly moved its estimated $50 million broadcast creative account to L/C from DDB Needham Chicago [Adweek, Oct. 5]. While it praised Needham’s work, Wards had been interested in L/C since the agency lost Carson’s to Ron Foth Advertising, Columbus, Ohio, in June.
L/C presented Wards with its credentials and a strategic idea, followed by speculative creative work behind that idea, Proctor said. He declined to discuss the strategy, other than to say the work will have a “strong retail context” with a brand-building message “built into it.” The presentation included a new tagline that is expected to replace Needham’s “Shop smart. Live well. Wards.”
Needham is expected to produce work through the holiday season. Quantum Media here continues to handle broadcast buying.
Much of the team that handled Carson’s at L/C’s Milwaukee office–including executive vice president and director of client services Andy Rychlik–will be put on the Wards business, Proctor said. Rychlik, who oversaw Carson’s, will spend much of his time in Chicago in charge of Wards.
The agency plans to hire a senior account supervisor and another creative team in Chicago, Proctor said. Creative efforts will be led by Steve Laughlin, managing partner, and Kirk Ruhnke, executive vice president and creative director.
Carson’s had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy when L/C came aboard in August 1992. The agency coined the tag, “Come to the right place,” which extended beyond broadcast work into print and store signs, Rychlik said.
Wards, which is also working its way out of bankruptcy, spent about $157 million on advertising in 1997, and about $70 million through July of this year. Print ads, handled in-house, absorb the bulk of that spending.