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    Wal-Mart Signs New Ad Muscle to Bolster Low Price Image

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has given over its advertising and media account to Interpublic Group's DraftFCBand and Aegis Group's Carat USA, respectively, the retailer said yesterday. The agencies will be charged with reestablishing Wal-Mart's primacy as a price leader, and at the same time broadening its appeal.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has given over its advertising and media account to Interpublic Group's DraftFCBand and Aegis Group's Carat USA, respectively, the retailer said yesterday. The agencies will be charged with reestablishing Wal-Mart's primacy as a price leader, and at the same time broadening its appeal.

    "Recognizing that a one size fits all model is a thing of the past, we have strategically transformed marketing ranks to move from a predominately national approach to a store-by-store, customer-by-customer execution of marketing campaigns," said Julie Roehm, s.v.p. of marketing communications at Wal-Mart, in a statement. "We are confident that DraftFCB and Carat's strong retail heritage and data-driven orientation will help us as we continue to explore ways to cement our relationships with our customers on a more personal and local level."

    With more than 84 percent of Americans now shopping at Wal-Mart at least once a year, the retailer said it is dedicated to expanding its appeal, while leveraging what it considers to be the cornerstones of the Wal-Mart brand, including value, EDLP (every day low price), quality, and service.

    In ensuring a seamless approach to integration, DraftFCB will partner with Carat to drive more personalized communications with an increased focus on local outreach.

    "We're excited about the fully integrated approach that DraftFCB and Carat will provide us," noted John Fleming, e.v.p. and chief marketing officer at Wal-Mart. "They have assembled a dream team that can deliver creatively and seamlessly across all marketing solutions, including advertising, direct mail, interactive, promotions, retail, and new and emerging media."

    Indications are that something has to change. The retailer posted its worst same-store sales results since December 2000 over the weekend. Wal-Mart said it expects same-store sales for October to rise just 0.5 percent, not coming close to an original forecast of a 2-4 percent gain, and worse than the 1.3 percent rise the company projected just last week on an earnings conference call.

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