Walmart Sets Massive Public-Relations Review

Retail Giant Wants to Blend 'Power Category Marketing and PR'

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NEW YORK ( -- Walmart has begun a massive public-relations review to tap a roster of about three agencies to handle its consumer business.

A spokeswoman for the retailer, Tara Raddohl, told Advertising Age that "Walmart is currently talking to a number of public relations agencies to support consumer communications for Walmart U.S. Candidate agencies that may join the roster have already been identified and vetted. The incumbent agency, Edelman, Chicago, is participating in the search." Edelman, which has handled public affairs and environmental work for Walmart for more than three years, referred calls to the marketer.

According to the request for proposals obtained by Advertising Age, the retail giant said its PR and brand reputation team "requires a re-examination of its needs to be met by outside PR counsel" as it takes steps to bring together "power category marketing and PR." The document went on to say that Walmart is in need of an agency roster that has "proven category and channel specialists, and innovative account teams."

Deliver robust ROI
In the RFP, Walmart said it wants to assemble a roster of agencies that can provide "fresh, emotional PR programming and deliver robust ROI" in categories including: food/grocery and health/nutrition; apparel and home (softlines and furniture); hardlines (lawn and garden, hardware, automotive, etc.); entertainment (electronics, movies, music, toys, sports, etc.); seasonal events; financial services; and

More specifically with regards to capabilities, the RFP states that the company is looking for agencies with "excellent capabilities in the areas of new media, online, media relations, crisis communications and multicultural outreach." It's also seeking shops that are proficient in the areas of event management, product placement and media pitching, and have "excellent writing across all mediums." Walmart, moreover, is requiring knowledge of the online retail and online competitive landscape, and satellite media tour vendors, according to the RFP.

Account scope significant
People close to the situation said 12 to 13 agencies were initially invited to pitch the business and that a cut was made to about five or six agencies. The second round of the review will get under way soon. Ms. Raddohl said she was "not able to comment on specifics" of the progress or who remains in in the review. The retailer hasn't divulged budget figures as of yet but the scope of the account is said to be "significant."

Select Resources International is handling the review.

Interpublic Group of Cos.'  Martin Agency is Walmart's lead creative shop and Publicis Groupe's Mediavest handles media duties for the retailer. Walmart has been busy on the agency front recently, expanding its agency roster to include West Coast shop Publicis & Hal Riney to handle work on its Great Value brand, and is said to be nearing an end to its review for its more than $40 million digital-advertising account, in which Interpublic agencies R/GA and MRM are the finalists.

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