As Ad-Agency Search Winds Down, Wal-Mart Eyes CMO Shake-up

Turmoil May Not Be Over; Talk Swirls That John Fleming Post Could Go to Stephen Quinn

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- You can bet Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott's list of New Year's resolutions contains something along these lines: Bring a swift end to the
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Speculation is swirling that current Wal-Mart CMO John Fleming may be replaced by Senior VP-Marketing Stephen Quinn.

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marketing-department flux and ad-agency nightmare that's been raging since the end of 2006.

Review redo
Although a decision in the retailer's $580 million review do-over is expected as soon as this week, there could be more change ahead for a marketing operation that's been in chaos since two senior executives, Julie Roehm and Sean Womack, were dismissed last month amid murky circumstances.

In addition to triggering the firing of DraftFCB and setting the stage for the current review, the dismissal and the high-profile scandal that ensued have sparked talk that Wal-Mart Chief Marketing Officer John Fleming, the former Target executive and Wal-Mart.com chief brought in to jolt Wal-Mart's marketing department in 2005, could be reassigned.

Shake-up talk
People close to Wal-Mart said company executives are weighing a shake-up that would move Mr. Fleming to a merchandising position and shift Senior VP-Marketing Stephen Quinn to the CMO post. "There are conversations going on," one of these people said.

Mr. Fleming is said to have played a less-than-central role in the current review, while Mr. Quinn and Wal-Mart Stores CEO Eduardo Castro-Wright have been heavily involved, according to other people familiar with the process.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman declined to comment, other than to say: "John Fleming participated in the agency-review presentations."

Latest finalists
The two finalists for the creative account, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, and three bidders for the media-buying and -planning business presented in Bentonville the week before Christmas. It's possible that Wal-Mart could decide on its new creative agency before it picks a media shop.

The media contenders -- original winner Carat, MediaVest and Mediaedge:cia -- are working on an exercise that's due Jan. 8.

The winners will have to ramp up quickly if they hope to help reverse Wal-Mart's same-store sales declines, a slide that's put analysts and investors on red alert. Wal-Mart announces its all-important December sales results this week.

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Lisa Sanders contributed to this report.
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