Monday, January 15, 2007

Wal-Mart

A sigh of relief for Interpublic Group. Somehow, after the DraftFCB pitch fiasco it still managed to maintain the $580m Wal-Mart account.

If you want to know how important that one ad account is to the troubled Interpublic then look what happened to its shares. They rallied 4% on Friday night when the decision was made.

When it first won the business it was seen as proof that Michael Roth was turning Interpublic around after those accounting scandals. When DraftFCB lost the account, its shares tumbled.

As you'll remember, the account went for review again in December when DraftFCB was stripped of its prize. This time around, it’s Interpublic's Martin Agency that will take the lead in handling creative work on the account while Publicis agency MediaVest takes the media work.

In December, Wal-Mart called in Select Resources International to rerun the creative and media pitch after its December appointment of DraftFCB and Carat for media.

Then it all got complicated. Wal-Mart parted company with Julie Roehm (she of Lingerie Bowl fame when she was at DaimlerChrysler), its senior vice-president of marketing communications, and then dumped Draft FCB, which Roehm had appointed with talk of murky goings on, riotous diners at Nobu and rides in Howard Draft's flash cars among other things.

Roehm told Reuters at the time "the entertaining was part of the normal course of business" and denied any inappropriate activity.

Roehm was only at Wal-Mart for a year and was really not seen as the traditional kind of person the retail giant hires.

Anyway, despite the possibility that the account might go elsewhere, Interpublic managed to hold onto it after a pitch against WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Omnicom Group's GSD&M. DraftFCB was not allowed to participate.

This time around the review was run by John Fleming, the Wal-Mart chief marketing officer who said the Martin Agency had been selected for its "deep retail experience, recognised creativity and an understanding of our customers".

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