RadioShack, Butler Shine Stern & Partners Part Ways

Three Finalists Joust in Review Due to Be Concluded in March

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RadioShack and Butler Shine Stern & Partners are parting ways.

Lee Applbaum, exec VP-CMO at RadioShack, told Ad Age today that the Sausalito, Calif.-based shop has "elected not to participate in the search process." The independent had been RadioShack's agency since April 2009.

Greg Stern, co-founder and CEO at the agency, said: "We're proud of the work we did for them and think it helped differentiate the brand and create a more contemporary image for them. Based on what they suggested they were looking for, we decided it was not the best use of our time."

Mr. Stern noted that the relationship officially ends in May.

RadioShack embarked on an agency review in November, at which point Butler Shine Stern was expected to defend the business.

Mr. Applbaum said the review is now focused on three finalists: independent Goodness Mfg, Hollywood; WPP's Grey , New York; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, Detroit. The search, which is expected to end in March, is being conducted by Select Resources International, a consultancy in Santa Monica, Calif.

"We are very pleased with the review to date and energized by the tremendous interest in our brand," Mr. Applbaum said.

Butler Shine Stern was responsible for developing "The Shack" platform for the electronics retailer in a play to help modernize the brand.

RadioShack's had overall ad expenses last year of more than $200 million. It remains to be seen whether the retailer, which has 7,300 locations, will continue the same level of advertising spending. It had a roller-coaster third quarter, reporting that net income plummeted to less than $1 million from $46 million last year.

The winning agency will be responsible for strategic and creative development across all marketing channels, including digital, social, mobile, broadcast and print media. Media-buying and -planning duties, which are handled by WPP's Mindshare, are not in review.

Another Butler Shine Stern account, BMW Mini, is also in the midst of a creative review. The agency has handled the account since 2005 and plans to participate in the review, which the marketer says is being mandated by procurement.

John Butler , executive creative director, said in a statement: "Generally, we believe incumbents shouldn't participate in an agency review. However, with our strong dealer and client relationships, an Effie for Mini each year that we've had the business, and the strength of the work, we are confident that we will prevail."

Under consideration is the full scope of work handled by Butler Shine and Stern, which includes national brand creative, regional and dealer creative, media planning and buying for both national and co-op advertising. Not included is digital work, which is handled by Boston-based Beam Interactive and multicultural marketing, handled by Austin, Texas-based Sanders Wingo.

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