Sears, Roebuck & Co. is quietly exploring a consolidation of its massive $1.6 billion media buying account.
The retailer, the U.S.' No. 5 advertiser, has asked at least two of its roster agencies--Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and the Media Edge, both New York--about their abilities to handle all Sears' media, according to executives familiar with the situation.
Ogilvy handles national broadcast buying for Sears; Media Edge, a unit of Young & Rubicam, handles print buying. The agencies referred calls to Sears.
A Sears spokeswoman said only, "Our agencies are important to us and we constantly look at smart ways to operate." She would not discuss whether a media consolidation is being explored.
It's not clear whether Sears has also approached Focus Media, Santa Monica, Calif., which handles cable TV, syndication, spot and Hispanic media buying for the retailer. One executive with knowledge of the situation also believes non-roster shops have been contacted, although he did not identify any.
Whether Sears is looking at a consolidation of its creative assignments is also unclear. Creative responsibility is currently split between Ogilvy and Y&R Advertising, Chicago and New York. Mark Cohen, Sears' chief marketing officer, recently assigned both shops to jointly develop a new campaign to succeed the long-running but stale "Softer side" ad push. The revised slogan, "The good life at a great price. Guaranteed," was credited to both shops.
Mr. Cohen also has pushed the retailer to focus on storewide sales and savings, as well as specific merchandise.
Mr. Cohen's other initiatives include a move to more music tie-ins and an effort to strengthen the retailer's ties to the Hispanic community. Sears plans to run a Spanish-language commercial in general-market programming. The spot will air during a CBS special featuring Latino singer Ricky Martin on Nov. 26, and will include English subtitles. It shows a family dancing around the Christmas tree and advertises dresses priced less than $50. Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados, Newport Beach, Calif., is the agency.
Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.