DONER WINS CIRCUIT CITY AD ACCOUNT

Creative and Media Planning Valued at $150 Million

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Circuit City Stores has selected independent advertising agency Doner of Southfield, Mich., for its estimated $150 million creative, strategic development and media planning account, according to the consultant handling the search.

Also vying for the account was Interpublic

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Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, New York, and another independent agency, Richards Group of Dallas.

Up against Best Buy
The Richmond, Va.-based electronics retailer is locked in a fierce competition with No. 1 Best Buy, which is gaining share at the expense of other consumer electronics retailers. Circuit City, which also ranks behind Wal-Mart in sales, launched a review in February. Its former agency was Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago.

The account has been estimated at $80 million to $100 million, though Circuit City spent $287 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The media services portion of the account remains in-house.

Hasan & Co. in Raleigh, N.C., was the search consultant.

New CMO
The retailer began revamping its marketing efforts in January, hiring Publicis Groupe's Bromley Communications as its first Hispanic agency and independent Sharpe Advertising, New York, to handle its online advertising, replacing FCBi, FCB's interactive unit. And in April the marketer hired a former Toys "R" Us marketing executive, Ernest V. Speranza, as its new chief marketing officer.

New positioning
The previous agency assignments won't be affected by Doner's appointment, Mr. Speranza said, but they will all coordinate their efforts to dovetail with a new positioning, which will be unveiled in the retailer's holiday campaign breaking in November. Mr. Speranza said all the agencies will meet for a brand summit shortly in which they will synchronize their messages.

Although he didn't spell out what the new positioning will be, Mr. Speranza said the message will be less product-centered and more consumer-centered that the current campaign.

"It's really to the core of any successful retailer. ... It's what the customer wants, and not what the [store] buyer wants," he said.

Mr. Speranza, who joined the retailer after the list of contenders was drafted, said he would have added more contenders if he had not been satisfied with the agencies presenting, but he saw no need. He added he is "elated" to have chosen Doner.

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