Kohl's, radio's second-biggest advertiser in the department store retailer category, has put its $240 million media account up for review. Since March 2013, Publicis Groupe’s Zenith agency has handled the Kohl's account.
“It would be conspicuous timing for Kohl’s to call a review of their media assignment, given the retailer has been the target of activist investors pressuring a sale of the business,” Forrester Research principal analyst Jay Pattisall tells Adweek. “The flexible nature of media makes it a convenient tool for business leaders to make immediate changes in promotion. Additionally, reviewing their media assignment could afford Kohl’s the opportunity to lower agency fees, during a strategic realignment.”
In recent days, Kohl's has received buyout offers from private equity firm Sycamore and Acacia Research in an offer backed by hedge fund Starboard Value LP, which offered $9 billion to take the business public at $64 per share, according to a story in MediaPost. Kohl's stock jumped more than 30% in response to the offers.
According to a report from CNBC, investors have also put the heat on Kohl’s to improve its performance. Kohl's reported $12.9 billion total revenue for the first nine months of 2021. While up 32% compared to the first three quarters of 2020, that was below pre-pandemic performance in 2018 and 2019, when revenue passed $13 billion during the same nine-month period.
Publicis, meanwhile, remains heavy into the retailer ad business, having picked up the $600 million Walmart account in September and managing media for Macy’s, radio's top department store retailer advertiser just ahead of Kohl's. Whether Publicis is participating in the review remains unclear.
According to Media Monitors, Kohl's ranked 30th among all radio advertisers in 2021, with a total 711,790 spots.