Winn-Dixie Shops Media Buying

N.Y., L.A. Specialists Have Met With Store’s William Cook Agency
NEW YORK–Winn-Dixie Stores is considering unbundling its $60 million media buying account, according to sources.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based supermarket chain has been quietly conducting a search with the help of its longtime advertising partner, The William Cook Agency. The intent would be to outsource the media duties, mostly spot purchasing assignments, to a media buying agency. Cook, also located in Jacksonville, would retain planning and creative.
At least three media specialists have met with Cook to discuss the assignment. Those agencies include Creative Media and Zenith, both in New York, and Carat-owned ICG in Los Angeles.
An executive at The William Cook Agency denied any media shop search was taking place.
“We have talked to more than three [media] agencies recently, but it was strictly as research,” said Lura Benton, president of Cook. “It in no way had to do with turning any media over to them.”
Benton said the conversations with media agencies were something her company has done in the past to remain “competitive.”
When asked why three different media specialists would say they were pitching the business, Benton replied: “You’ll have to ask them.”
It is not clear why Winn-Dixie is considering making a change in its media buying partner. Sources said that the retailer has grown to a point where it needs a media specialist. Last year the client spent slightly more than $62 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
A Winn-Dixie Stores official said that the retailer was not conducting a media review. When asked if Cook was doing so, all questions were referred back to the agency.
In addition to Cook, the chain has a Hispanic agency, Zubi Advertising in Coral Gables, Fla. That shop handles Hispanic media buying.
In July, Winn-Dixie reported dramatically lower earnings for the fourth quarter that ended in June, despite stronger sales.
The retailer is trying to attract new customers by promoting lower prices as well as stocking different items with higher profit margins, according to analysts.