PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA: After putting its commercial PR account up for review and listening to pitches from five agencies, Ikea has decided to retain the services of both Weber Shandwick and Ketchum to handle separate projects, rather than name one AOR.
Wendy Clark, US commercial PR manager at Ikea, said that Weber will handle a national branding effort and Ketchum will focus on a number of projects including media relations and evaluating the ROI on Ikea's PR initiatives.
Clark told PRWeek that choosing two agencies was not the plan going in, but seemed like the best course of action after listening to their respective pitches. The one-year agreements mark the first time Ikea has worked with either agency.
"Clearly those agencies are very strong overall, and we couldn't see any benefit in limiting ourselves to just one," Clark said. "After going through the pitch process we just found that they both address different immediate needs that we have. We didn't necessarily expect any of them to come out of the pitch process with an off-the-shelf concept, however, it turns out that Weber presented a national branding concept that we just felt like we really needed to run with. It was a really good fit for us. Ketchum really impressed us with their ongoing media and online capabilities and their measurement capabilities."
Clark said PR was going to be a larger part of Ikea's future brand building and marketing efforts. Clark would not discuss details of the ensuing projects but said, "In the next few months you'll definitely start hearing us make some noise."
Ketchum agency will also help support Ikea regionally where it has stores.
"We have 28 stores in 15 markets, so they will really be a strong partner with us in developing PR tactics and garnering press attention in those markets," Clark said. And while Clark said Ikea is in "major expansion" mode opening an average of five stores a year, the agencies would not participate in store opening initiatives.
Gail Heimann, president of Weber's New York office will head up the agency's account. She will be working with a "very senior team," said Rene Mack, EVP of Weber Shandwick.
Alyssa Garnick, VP group manager who runs the lifestage group at Ketchum, will head the account for the agency. She said it will be led primarily out of New York, "but I expect it may work across the Ketchum network based on the work that gets decided."
Lime Public Relations & Promotion, Ikea's consumer AOR for the last 12 years, was one of the agencies that pitched.