PHILADELPHIA, PA: Pep Boys hired JMPR Public Relations as its first AOR in over five years, following an informal competitive review that began six months ago.
The review began when the auto parts and service company granted a project to an undisclosed large agency as a test “to show the value of PR to folks who may not have believed in the strong investment,” said VP of marketing Ron Stoupa. At the culmination of the test, he invited that agency, along with other large firms in New York and the Midwest, to participate in the review.
He ultimately chose JMPR – he met president Joe Molina at an auto show a couple of years ago - due to the agency's “great experience in the automotive industry” and its ability, as a small shop, to be very “involved and hands-on.”
The budget will start in the low-six-figure range, and the relationship is a one-year agreement. However, he said with proven ROI both could grow.
The investment in an AOR reflects a shifting of dollars from “less efficient media” into PR, he added. “It's a proven marketing asset and we were under-developing our marketing plan.”
About five years ago, the company experienced a change in leadership and halted a couple of its agency relationships.
“I'm just trying to revive some of the strong pillars of marketing,” he said. “In the past, we had very basic, quarterly releases and initiatives. I want to start more of a dialogue with consumers in a more editorial fashion.”
The agency, which currently touts automotive clients such as Bentley and Motor Trend, will work on a large program related to the company's 90th anniversary and handle grand openings throughout the year. Of its 600-plus stores, the company opened approximately 40 US locations in 2010 and it hopes to exceed that number in 2011, he said.
Referring to the "Manny, Moe & Jack" branding and its historical relevance, Molina said, "It's been an American idiom for so long. This is something you sort of dream of."
Though not confirmed, it has been reported by various media outlets that Pep Boys has hired Bank of America to seek out potential buyers.