Petco Adopts New Agency: Vitro

Account Loss Takes Bite Out of Incumbent DraftFCB

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Vitro: It's where the pets go.

Petco has named a new creative agency, Vitro, after a review. The business had been at DraftFCB's Orange County, Calif., office since early 2011. Initiative, a DraftFCB sibling at Interpublic Group of Cos., will continue to handle media for the pet-supplies retailer, which handled the review internally.

"Vitro impressed us with their ability to understand and connect with our passionate pet parents in a unique way," said Petco Chief Marketing Officer Elisabeth Charles. "They brought us a breakthrough strategic creative platform that aligns perfectly with Petco's vision and works well across all our customer facing touch points."

"Our job is to make sure folks see how committed Petco is in nurturing the [pet-owner] relationship," said Vitro CEO Tom Sullivan. "We love that Petco is leveraging the passion people have for their pets. It's not just about caring and connecting with pets, it's about building a physically and socially emotional relationship."

Vitro Chairman John Vitro said that the pet category is challenging because "so much has been done" in marketing by the likes of pet-food companies to appeal to pet-owner emotions."The challenge is finding a new way to do it, and we've found something that is truly unique for this brand." He declined to provide specifics on messaging, but said that Vitro's campaign is expected to launch in the fall.

"Our AOR relationship with Petco ended six months ago. We wish the company continued success," said DraftFCB spokesman Wally Petersen, adding that the agency had worked with Petco since early this year on a project basis and did participate in the review.

Vitro in January picked up the creative account for burger chain Red Robin. Last year the agency opened a New York office and picked up Redbox Instant by Verizon.

Petco, which has about 1,150 stores in the U.S., spent about $26.8 million on U.S. measured media in 2012, down 3.6% from $27.8 million in 2011, according to Kantar Media.

The account shift is a blow to DraftFCB, particularly its Southern California operation, where the main clients were Petco -- which shifted to a project relationship early this year -- and Taco Bell. Earlier this year, Interpublic sibling Deutsch debuted creative work for Taco Bell via a Super Bowl spot and has picked up subsequent work, though the company maintains that both DraftFCB and Deutsch continue to work on the business.

In late May, DraftFCB tapped Rahul Roy, a longtime Yum Brands account lead at DraftFCB, to run the agency's new Los Angeles office, which effectively replaces its Orange County outpost. (A few employees were expected to stay in Orange County to service Taco Bell.) In June, DraftFCB in Southern California made staff cuts, though numbers were not disclosed.

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