Eight Agencies Remain in Wal-Mart Review

Potential Conflicts Cause Some Shops to Drop Out of Race for $570 Million Account

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Wal-Mart Stores has narrowed the number of agencies participating in its $570 million creative review to eight, according to executives close to the situation.
The retailer's prime challenge is to get people who visit its stores to shop more broadly, particularly for higher-margin goods.
The retailer's prime challenge is to get people who visit its stores to shop more broadly, particularly for higher-margin goods.

Two incumbents
Among those remaining are the two incumbents, Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, and independent Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, Mo., plus what's believed to be six other shops: Havas' Arnold; Publicis Groupe's Publicis and Saatchi X; WPP Group's JWT and Ogilvy & Mather; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB Group.

The agencies either couldn't be reached for comment or referred calls to the client.

Julie Roehm, senior VP-marketing communications, Wal-Mart Stores U.S.A. confirmed "we have refined the list a bit" but declined to name shops expected to continue in the hunt.

A list of finalists will be selected from this shortened list, with a decision made sometime this fall.

Wal-Mart's prime challenge
According to the request for proposal circulated to agencies participating in the pitch, Wal-Mart's prime challenge is to get people who visit its stores to shop more broadly, particularly for higher-margin goods.

A number of factors appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of some shops that might have been expected to participate in the review. TBWA/Chiat/Day, for example, has the resources at its disposal to put up a Wal-Mart dream team, but dropped out before the cut was made, a spokesman said.

Executives at a number of shops said that not only has the myriad of obvious conflicts with other retailers disinclined them to pitch, but that some of their package-goods clients have balked at the prospect of their agency linking with a distributor that has a tough reputation with suppliers.

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., is the consultant.

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Willow Duttge, Jeremy Mullman and Lisa Sanders contributed to this report.
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