Circuit City reviews four for $150 mil brand account

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Circuit City Stores, in a bid to stand out from price-driven retail electronics advertising, is shopping its estimated $150 million TV brand assignment.

The retailer, which handles most of its advertising in-house, has narrowed to four creative specialty agencies to develop a campaign--in an apparent bid to elevate its image.

Circuit City also spends about $330 million on print ads, circulars and other collateral material. That work continues to be handled in-house.


The chain declined to tell agencies how much it will spend for the branding effort; some executives believe the entire $150 million won't shift to that.

DeVito/Verdi, New York, had handled branding work for Circuit City for four years, but resigned the account in January when it won a conflicting business--Office Depot's $40 million account.

The electronics retailer spent at most $20 million on the branding campaign via DeVito/Verdi. However, higher spending now is likely given the chain's recent entry into the New York market.

Circuit City initially contacted a handful of agencies asking for a reel of work and background information, according to an executive familiar with the review. It then narrowed the list to four. There is no consultant.


Several executives believe the shop that prevails won't have complete creative control. Circuit City has considerable equity in its "red plug" logo and plug-man character, and it's believed the retailer will insist on keeping them.

"It will be a difficult branding assignment given Circuit City's commitment to the 'plug element,' " said one person familiar with the retailer.

A spokesman for Circuit City said VP-Marketing Jeff Palmer insisted the company had not contacted agencies.

Mr. Palmer joined the retailer from the agency world; he previously was at UniWorld Group, New York, one of the largest multicultural specialty agencies.

Circuit City is beefing up its advertising as it plans to launch an online selling site later this year. The retailer, whose product line includes cell phones, computers, audio and video equipment as well as home appliances, will face a myriad of new competition in the online arena.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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