Has Been With Carmichael Lynch Only 10 Months

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Retailer Ikea has put its estimated $40 million to $50 million creative and media account into review after only 10 months with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.

Christian Mathieu, external marketing manager for Ikea, said the retailer of furniture and other home products decided to call for a review as a result of its planned North American expansion.

Mr. Mathieu said the key element is the selection process is the ability of an agency to handle "an account of our size in a seamless way." He said the agency contenders could take on the assignment -- ranging from creative, media, interactive, direct and relationship marketing -- either themselves or with outside partners through strategic alliances. Geographic location is not a consideration, he said.

'Frugal' ad spend
Mr. Mathieu said Ikea plans to continue with its current media mix, predominantly TV as well as outdoor, brand magazine ads and use of radio and newspapers on a tactical basis. He said spending may go up as Ikea expands, but he declined to speculate on future spending, noting the company is based in Sweden, where "frugality is a key value."

He said the current tag line of "Live Better" will be re-evaluated with the new agency. He expects a decision to be made by March 2002.

Ikea, headquartered in the U.S. in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., currently has 15 U.S. stores and eight in Canada. It plans to open 50 more stores in the next 10 years, Mr. Mathieu said. The review, he said, is "the result of our aggressive expansion and growth plans," he said.

Pile & Co., Boston, which handled the review when the business was moved from Interpublic's Deutsch to Carmichael Lynch, is once again involved in the search.

Previous agency surprised
News of the review surprised executives at Carmichael Lynch, said agency President John Colasanti. He said when he was told of the review, he considered defending the account for a week and eventually declined.

"Results have far exceeded expectations in a soft retail climate right now," he said. "We stand by what we've done."

Mr. Colasanti said the shop currently is participating in three reviews -- Molson and two undisclosed bids -- that could replace lost Ikea income.