Wal-Mart Picks Martin, MediaVest In Agency Re-Review

The sometime soap-operatic advertising saga known as the Wal-Mart advertising agency review concluded (again) on Friday with the naming of The Martin Agency for creative and MediaVest for media.

Other high-profile clients of the Richmond, Va.-based Martin include UPS and Geico. MediaVest, meanwhile, also serves Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble, two large Wal-Mart suppliers.

Martin topped Ogilvy & Mather, while MediaVest defeated Carat and Mediaedge:cia.

All those agencies, except MediaVest, were finalists in the first review for the business--which saw the estimated $580 million account awarded to and then withdrawn from DraftFCB and Carat, following the abrupt departure of Wal-Mart's Senior Vice President of marketing Julie Roehm and her subordinate Sean Womack.

With the conclusion of the review, the role of Wal-Mart CMO John Fleming may be changing as well. News reports have openly speculated that Stephen Quinn, Wal-Mart's senior vice president of marketing, will soon succeed Fleming.

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The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Quinn's market-research and metrics-driven approach--cultivated as a former CMO at Frito-Lay--has gone over well within the Wal-Mart culture. The article says Quinn was the lone voice in the marketing department, urging Wal-Mart to take an evolutionary approach to moving from its low-price strategy.

Fleming, who joined Wal-Mart from Target, had been concentrating on revamping the company's home decor lines, while Quinn was focused on branding and strategy. Quinn delivered one of the opening keynotes at the ANA's annual meeting last October.

During the past holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart reverted to a heavy price-value message, shifting from its attempt to reposition itself to court more affluent shoppers. Same-store sales for December were 1.5% higher than the previous year. Target's same-store sales grew by 4.1% for the same period.

Meanwhile, GlobalHue, based in Southfield, Mich., will provide African-American creative for Wal-Mart; Los Angeles-based IW Group will provide marketing programs focused on the Asian-Pacific American consumer; and Houston's Lopez Negrete will lead Hispanic creative.

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