Home Depot Opens Review for Direct, Interactive Work

Splits With DDB; Specialist Agency Sought for Account

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Home Depot, the No. 1 home-improvement retailer, has put its direct marketing and interactive business into review following a split with its agency of record, DDB Worldwide, Chicago.

DDB, a unit of Omnicom Group, had handled the business since 2002 and will still work on some projects.

Home Depot turned heads when it originally picked DDB because it chose the ad agency over a few direct-marketing shops. Now it appears the marketer is preparing to pick a direct marketing specialist.

Mutually agreed split
“While DDB and The Home Depot have mutually agreed not to renew our direct marketing agency of record agreement for 2006, DDB continues to support select business units at The Home Depot,” the marketer said in statement. “We thank DDB for their many contributions to our business, and look forward to working with them on a project basis in the future.”

Among those contributions was introducing Home Depot to direct-response TV in 2003 with ads that were designed to have the look and feel of brand advertising.

Home Depot turned heads when it picked DDB because it chose the ad agency over a few direct-marketing shops. Now it appears the marketer is preparing to pick a specialist. Interpublic Group of Cos.’ MRM Worldwide and Draft as well as independent Digitas are all chasing the business, according to executives familiar with the situation.

The agencies either declined to comment or didn’t return calls.

Did not address review
Home Depot’s statement did not address the review other than to say that as "part of The Home Depot’s innovative marketing and advertising strategy, we are constantly seeking opportunities to maximize the effectiveness of our agency resources. Part of that is to identify agencies whose unique expertise in specific areas will better assist us in reaching our goals.”

Home Depot is the largest home-improvement retailer by sales and this week reported a fourth-quarter jump in net income of 23%. Still, it’s facing increased pressure from Lowe’s, which has reporting better same-store sales.

The loss is a blow to DDB’s Chicago office, which is likely to see at least a part of its consumer ad duties for Dell Computer Corp. shift to sibling BBDO Atlanta.

The review does not affect lead creative duties, handled by independent Richards Group.

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Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.

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