PEP BOYS TALKS TO SHOPS ABOUT $30 MIL ACCOUNT

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The Pep Boys chain is putting the creative portion of its estimated $30 million account into an informal review, casting a wide net by contacting more than 50 agencies.

The account is currently handled by Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York.

The agency didn't return calls seeking comment on the review. Pep Boys declined comment.

CREDENTIALS BY TODAY

The retailer has requested agencies submit credentials by today, said agency executives who have been contacted. Several said they were concerned by the scope of Pep Boy's search.

One executive, who declined to participate, categorized the search as "an outbound telemarketing operation," saying the auto parts chain is calling "anyone with a heartbeat."

He said three Pep Boys secretaries are contacting agencies.

SHORT-LIVED AGENCY TIES

The retailer's agency partnerships in recent years have been short-lived. Before hiring Freeman in December 1995, it had a two-year relationship with N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York. Ayer won the account in May 1993 from Admarketing, Los Angeles.

Pep Boys also shifted its media buying in the summer of 1996, hiring Pro Media, Needham, Mass., after it parted ways with International Communications Group, Los Angeles, which won the account in July 1993.

"They always seem to be unhappy," said one agency executive.

Freeman created humorous ads tagged "Everything but gas," for Pep Boys.

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