As it picks up the pieces after firing DraftFCB from its $580 million ad account, Wal-Mart has retained Select Resources International to conduct the review for a replacement agency.
Julie Roehm: Perpetrator or Victim of Wal-Mart Scandal?
An Audio Interview With 'Ad Age' Editor Jonah Bloom
Unruly Julie and the Scandal That Rocked the Ad World
Why Wal-Mart Fired Its Change-Agent Marketer Julie Roehm -- and the Agency She Hired
Draft Dealt Staggering Blow After Strutting Like a Champ
Triumphant Agency CEO Turns From Hero to Goat Overnight
Previous Wal-Mart Stories:
Dec. 7, 2006
Wal-Mart to Reopen $580 Million Account Review
Newly Appointed DraftFCB Cut Following Ouster of Julie Roehm
Dec. 5, 2006
Julie Roehm Out at Wal-Mart
Recently Completed $580 Million Wal-Mart Stores Agency Review
Wal-Mart last week fired Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB just days after dismissing Julie Roehm, senior VP-marketing communications, who was a key decisionmaker in that review. Executives close to the company said Ms. Roehm's dismissal stemmed in part from violations of Wal-Mart policy during the review, including her participation at a swanky dinner thrown by DraftFCB at Manhattan's Nobu 57. Ms. Roehm has denied receiving any gifts or gratuities.
Most observers say it is unlikely Wal-Mart will open the review to a wide field, given that it wants to complete the process by the end of January. They say the field of contenders could be limited to the finalists in its last go-around. They were Interpublic's Martin Agency, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and the incumbent, Omnicom Group's GSD&M. Wal-Mart has said DraftFCB will not be allowed to participate, but that Carat, the Aegis Group-owned company that won media duties, will be allowed to compete.
SRI referred calls to Wal-Mart, where a spokeswoman would not confirm whether the consultancy would be handling the do-over. "We have reopened the review," said spokeswoman Linda Blakely. "We expect to have something announced and share shortly after the first of the year. I have nothing else to say."
The scandal has been a major embarrassment for Wal-Mart and its plans to reshuffle its marketing approach. Executives familiar with the company have said that the review will actually be run by Eduardo Castro-Wright, the CEO of Wal-Mart Stores USA, but Ms. Blakely said that Wal-Mart Chief Marketing Officer John Fleming is handling the review. She would not discuss whether CEO Lee Scott personally has become involved.
"I'm not going to go into details; we shared what we plan to share," Ms. Blakely said.
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Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.