For 32 years, until Julie Roehm walked in the door, Kansas City’s Bernstein-Rein took the lead on the Wal-Mart ad account.
This fascinating article in The Pitch (a local KC publication) traces the history of the account:
Walton had chosen Bernstein-Rein for one reason: a simple ad he’d seen for the now-defunct Milgram Food Stores. It featured “Janie from Milgram’s,” who did nothing more in the commercial than list that week’s deals. Walton knew that as his company went national, he wanted commercials that looked as if they’d been produced by a local store owner. When Walton arrived at Bernstein-Rein, he had one request: “I want Janie.”
Agency co-founder Bob Bernstein wasn’t immediately impressed by Walton. Bernstein, who’s now 66, recalls telling Walton that actress Janie Fopeano wasn’t for hire. “You can’t have Janie. She’s under contract.”
After Walton got in his pickup and headed back to Bentonville, Arkansas, the first thing that Bernstein did was call his accountant. “Check this guy out,” he said. “Find out if he’s for real.”
The rest is history. Maybe Bernstein (or GSD&M, which also did work for Wal-Mart) will get another shot and keep some of the business now that Roehm’s gone. At the very least, they know how not to push the ol’ envelope.
Like I said, it’s a great article, worth a read.