Walgreens Begins Review of $240 Million Media Account

Publicis Groupe's Starcom Has Been Incumbent for a Decade

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For the first time in a decade, national pharmacy chain Walgreens is launching a formal review for its $240 million media-planning and -buying account.

"The reason we are inviting agencies for a review is that it has been 10 years since we've formally gone through this process for media planning and buying," a spokeswoman told Ad Age in a statement. She added that the incumbent on the business, Publicis Groupe 's Starcom, has been invited to participate in the pitch process, which will be handled by consultancy R3:JLB.

Credit: AP

The move comes as the company, which has about 8,000 locations in the U.S., is expanding its offerings, adding: services at its pharmacies and clinics, grocery items and fresh food in stores, enhanced beauty departments and more investment in private label.

TV, radio, print, out-of -home and digital media are all part of the scope of work under scrutiny. A spokeswoman said in a statement that newspaper circulars will not be included in the review. The company intends to issue a request for proposal by early February and is shooting to make a decision by April.

It's a sizable account at stake for Starcom, and a big opportunity for media agencies that are invited to pitch. According to Kantar Media, $237.9 million was in U.S. measured media. Walgreens is the 78th largest advertiser in the U.S., according to Ad Age 's DataCenter , spending a total of $489 million in 2011.

Representatives for Starcom referred a request for comment to Walgreens. "We've had a very good relationship with Starcom, which is why we want them to participate in the review," said the spokeswoman.

The media review follows a creative pitch. Last January, Walgreens reached out to agencies for a creative review in the wake of reorganizing its merchandising and marketing teams. That move that eliminated the CMO position, which was held by Kim Feil. The creative account eventually went to Omnicom Group's GSD&M.

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