Wal-Mart fires ad agency after one month

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has dropped its newly hired ad agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB, following the departure of a top marketing executive that helped lead Wal-Mart's switch to the new agency.

Wal-Mart's spokeswoman Mona Williams said that the decision was "the result of new information that we have obtained over the past few weeks." She declined to discuss further the new information. She added that Wal-Mart notified DraftFCB Thursday morning and is reopening the bid process for its advertising account, which is worth more than a half a billion dollars.

Philippe Krakowsky, Interpublic's executive vice president of strategy and corporate relations, at Interpublic Group, said "we are disappointed to hear of the decision." He declined to comment further.

The news, reported on Adage.com Thursday, followed Wal-Mart's announcement earlier this week that Julie Roehm, senior vice president of marketing communications, had left the company after less than a year on the job. Another marketing executive, Sean Womack, vice president of communications architecture, left at the same time. Womack was hired this spring and reported to Roehm.

Roehm was hired in January and reported to Wal-Mart's head of marketing, former Target Corp. executive John Fleming. Under Roehm, Wal-Mart invited bids from a number of ad agencies on how to better market the image of being both a trend purveyor and a low-price operator.

In the end, Wal-Mart severed ties with its two long-time agencies, Omnicom Group Inc.'s GSD&M in Austin, Texas, and Bernstein-Rein Advertising Inc., based in Kansas City, Mo. Both ad agencies are ending their services in January. Wal-Mart named DraftFCB as its advertising agency and Aegis Group's Carat as its media buying agency in late October.

Williams said that DraftFCB will not be eligible for the new review, but that Carat will be eligible to participate. She said the review process should "move quickly" and she expects the new ad agency to come on board by the end of January.