Marks & Spencer hands U.K. account to Walker Media

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LONDON--U.K.-based retailer Marks & Spencer has tapped Walker Media, London, in the company's first appointment of a centralized retail media planning and buying agency. The budget is estimated at $42.5 million.

Once the doyen of British retailing, the 106-year-old food, home furnishings and clothing chain appointed Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R as creative agency last April in an attempt to help claw its way out of a spiral of flagging sales and bad publicity. It had previously used BMP DDB, London.

As part of the same process, a new Group Marketing Director, Alan McWalter, was drafted in last January from retail group Kingfisher, where he was marketing director at Woolworths.

The new agencies will implement a marketing campaign incorporating "all forms of media," according to a company spokeswoman.

Walker Media, 50%-owned by M&C Saatchi, London, was chosen after a four-way pitch with WPP Group's MindShare, Omnicom Gropup's Optimum Media Direction and Publicis' Optimedia, all London. Matthew Chambers, head of external marketing for M&S, says Walker Media's strong understanding of the M&S brand and an innovative approach to media planning made it "the obvious partner."

Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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