MAY SEEKS SINGLE AGENCY TO BOOST BRANDING EFFORTS: TV CREATIVE REVIEW SPANS 7 DIVISIONS; PLANNING SKILLS TO BE CRUCIAL

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May Department Stores Co., with new management and a desire to build its regional store chains, is searching for an agency to handle TV creative on an account that could reach $60 million.

With the move, May appears to be centralizing its TV creative, seeking one shop to handle seven of its divisions: Famous-Barr, St. Louis; Filene's, Boston; Foley's, Houston; Kaufmann's, Pittsburgh; Meier & Frank, Portland, Ore.; Robinsons-May, Los Angeles; and Strawbridge's, in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Currently, each division handles TV creative in-house.

IN-HOUSE UNITS TO CONTINUE

May, with sales of $12.9 billion, would continue using its in-house advertising departments for other creative. Janik & Associates, Los Angeles, will continue to handle media for some of the store brands.

The retailer is the latest in a string of national chains to shore up branding efforts. Nordstrom earlier this year signed Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, for its first national branding campaign. Late last month, Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy's and Bloomingdale's, moved to strengthen its brand clout by elevating Joseph Feczko to senior marketing officer, a new post designed to boost the chain's individual retail-store brands as well as private-label lines.

The agency search is but one sign of a new aggressiveness at May, which plans an ambitious store opening and remodeling schedule during the next five years under new President-CEO Gene Kahn.

PLANNING SKILLS IMPORTANT

For the account, May is looking for an agency with a minimum of $100 million in billings, preferably in the Midwest or the East, with strong strategic planning skills.

Catherine Bension, managing partner of consultancy Select Resources International, West Hollywood, Calif., said it has begun to contact agencies; May will visit prospective agencies beginning Aug. 10. Following a work assignment, a decision is planned by the end of September.

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