JC Penney Opens Review for $32 Million Hispanic Account

Splits With Dieste Harmel; Vidal and Conill to Participate

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- JC Penney Co. has started a review for its $32 million U.S. Hispanic account after splitting with Omnicom Group's Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas, and the marketer expects to pick a new agency in March.

The retailer is putting together a list of three to five Hispanic shops for the pitch, said Olivia Vela. Ms. Vela was promoted to multicultural marketing director at JC Penney in October 2007 after her predecessor, Manny Fernandez, moved to a human resources post focusing on diversity at the company.

Saatchi connection
The review will include the Vidal Partnership, an independent Hispanic agency based in New York, and Conill, Saatchi & Saatchi's Hispanic agency, she said. Saatchi, part of Publicis Groupe, is JC Penney's general-market agency, and the retailer moved its account for Puerto Rico to Badillo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, San Juan, in December 2007.

Dieste issued a press release yesterday saying the agency had decided in December to resign the account. Ms. Vela said JC Penney had informed Dieste that the agency's contract would not be renewed.

"The plan is to over the next six weeks have a few agencies come and do a presentation and we'll award the business in March," she said. "It's not going to be a long, drawn out process. We've done our homework on who the up-and-coming agencies are."

Account includes media
She said JC Penney is looking at the "overall agency and what it has to offer" and will not necessarily require retail experience. The account includes Hispanic media. No consultant is being used for the agency search.

Retail is the second-biggest ad category in the Hispanic market after automotive, accounting for almost $600 million in ad spending in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence. JC Penney ranked No. 31 among the top Hispanic advertisers, spending $32.5 million in 2006, up 29% from the previous year. In 2007, the retailer spent $15.5 million during the first half of the year, up from $11.8 million for the same period the previous year. Sears Holdings Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores are also bigger spenders, at $83 million and $66 million, respectively, in 2006.
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