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Wal-Mart In "Amateur Hour" With Ad Changes?

Friday, 8 Dec 2006 | 2:26 PM ET

A Wal-Mart advertising account worth $580 million is up for grabs again. The world’s largest retailer let go Interpublic Group’s Draft FCB just two days after dropping Julie Roehm, who as Wal-Mart’s head of advertising had handpicked the agency to help shape a new image for the company. Roehm has a history of racy ad campaigns – Chrysler’s “Lingerie Bowl” in 2003 – and it doesn’t look like the conservative base at Wal-Mart was ready for it.

Wal-Mart's Image
Wal-Mart fires its ad agency and investors begin to speculate on how the company will transform its sullied image, with David Kiley, BusinessWeek Senior Correspondent, and CNBC's Sue Herera.

David Kiley of BusinessWeek spoke to Sue Herera on “Power Lunch” today. He called Wal-Mart’s move “Arkansas amateur hour.” Apparently, Roehm had attended an event sponsored by Draft FCB before the account was awarded and Wal-Mart used that as an excuse to oust her. The company is known for its strict policy toward gifts from venders and said Roehm’s attendance was against company policy.

Bottom line, though, is that Wal-Mart couldn’t handle the direction Roehm was headed in, so she got the boot. Kiley says at this point it doesn’t look like Wal-Mart knows what it wants.

Either way, he said it was a big loss for Draft FCB, which for all intents and purposes, did nothing wrong.

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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

  • Tyler Mathisen co-anchors CNBC's "Power Lunch." Mathisen also co-anchors "Nightly Business Report produced by CNBC."

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Kenny Polcari