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.