BLOCKBUSTER COULD BE NEXT TO BAIL ON DMB&B

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Blockbuster Entertainment has quietly begun talking to four agencies about its $140 million video stores account, now at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles' St. Louis and New York offices.

Blockbuster is looking at DMB&B; Young & Rubicam, New York; and Leo Burnett USA and Foote, Cone & Belding, both Chicago, sources said.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based entertainment giant wouldn't comment. Senior VP-Marketing Brian Woods was in meetings in New York and Chicago for most of last week.

No specific reason for the review is known, other than Blockbuster's general dissatisfaction with DMB&B since naming it agency of record in December 1993. Blockbuster since then has become part of Viacom, and key executives from both the marketer and the agency who were involved in the earlier review have left.

Blockbuster's $35 million music stores business left DMB&B for FCB in July; insiders say Blockbuster didn't adequately prepare DMB&B for the pecularities of billing and working with the nation's major music labels.

Y&R was part of the music review; Burnett participated in the 1993 review and, along with DMB&B and J. Walter Thompson Co., is on Blockbuster's international roster.

The review is a big blow to DMB&B, which declined to comment. The agency's St. Louis office had $422 million in billings in 1994. But $135 million, or 32%, of that disappeared after the office lost Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser account late last year and then the music portion of Blockbuster. Losing the video portion-consisting of about $100 million in corporate work and $40 million in franchise work-would cut the office's current billings in half.

DMB&B's other U.S. offices also have had a tough time, losing more than $50 million in accounts from clients including Denny's and Amoco Corp. in the past year. Last month the agency also resigned its $65 million Kraft Foods account. Like most multinational agencies, privately held DMB&B has won substantial new business overseas this year, bringing about $200 million in net new billings to its coffers.

Pat Sloan and Jeffery D. Zbar contributed to this story.

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