After making over its agency roster for the second time in two months, Wal-Mart Stores still has unfinished business as it prepares to open a pitch for its $65 million-plus multicultural-media-buying account and continues talks with Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, regarding a project for its high-end George apparel brand, according to people familiar with the matter.
Wal-Mart also quietly signed incumbent GSD&M to a six-month extension of its contract, which was up at the end of the month. The Omnicom Group shop opted out of Wal-Mart's second review, which came after the December ouster of Julie Roehm, senior VP-marketing communications, and the agency she hired, Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB, Chicago.
Wal-Mart declined to comment on the agency developments, and Kirshenbaum had no comment.
While GSD&M still enjoys support among some executives in the retail giant's marketing department, the agency is unlikely to continue working with Wal-Mart beyond the summer, according to people close to the company.
"We helped build Wal-Mart from $11 billion in sales to $312 billion," said GSD&M President Roy Spence. "We declare victory. We will do everything to make the transition perfect."
GSD&M's contract extension will give Wal-Mart's new creative shop, Interpublic's Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., time to ramp up for what's easily its biggest account.
Wal-Mart also has been in talks with Kirshenbaum, a unit of MDC Partners, regarding a project for the retailer's George ME apparel brand from designer Mark Eisen, according to people familiar with the company. Kirshenbaum participated in the early rounds of Wal-Mart's first review last year, but it's not clear whether the project will get the go-ahead or lead to anything more permanent.
Meanwhile, it appears Publicis Groupe's MediaVest has won a chance to compete for Wal-Mart's multicultural-media assignment because its Tapestry unit is the leading multicultural-media-planning and -buying shop. Until now, Wal-Mart's ethnic creative agencies have also handled media for their segments.
The agencies that won creative duties for the multicultural account-Hispanic incumbent Lopez Negrete Communications, Houston; African-American agency GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich.; and Asian-American incumbent IW Group, Los Angeles-will compete against Tapestry for the media portion.
Wal-Mart spent $64 million on Spanish-language media in 2005 and was on pace for similar spending last year, according to data from TNS Media Intelligence, which doesn't break out data for African-American or Asian-American media.
contributing: brooke capps