Debenhams sets out to find a new agency

Debenhams has departed JWT after eight years and shortlisted Karmarama, Mcgarrybowen, Mother and Mary Portas’ retail specialist Portas.

Eight years isn’t a bad run at such a retailer; Debenhams always seems in danger of joining other high street casualties but it trucks on. Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley is a big shareholder, God help us.

JWT’s ‘Found It’ campaign actually seemed to hit it on the head: Debenhams is a good place to buy Christmas presents, still the mainstay of much of the high street.

It’s an interesting list: May Portas evidently knows a lot about retailing; Mcgarrybowen is becoming established in London, Karmarama is now fortified by Accenture Interactive’s legions of consultants and Mother is trying to replace departed Boots and Halfords (and still smarting over missing out on Sainsbury’s). Halfords is now at Karmarama, while Boots has gone to a WPP construct headed by Ogilvy.

JWT was ready to repitch according to Campaign but maybe Boots at WPP sibling Ogilvy got in the way; both major on gifts at Christmas when they spend most of their money.

So Debenham’s choice should add interest to the Christmas retail wars, assuming they haven’t got Christmas in the can already.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.