AARP Conducts Procurement-Driven Agency Search

Organization Increased Ad Spending 24% Last Year

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AARP is out talking to agencies to handle creative and media work as part of a procurement-driven exercise, Ad Age has learned. The incumbent is Omnicom Group's GSD&M.

GSD&M declined to comment on the matter. It was not immediately clear whether GSD&M, which has worked on the account since 2002, will participate in the review.

But according to executives familiar with the situation, the process is being driven by procurement.

"As a social-change organization, we regularly evaluate our relationships with all our vendors to ensure we are being as efficient and effective as we can be with our resources," Michelle Alvarez, senior manager-media relations at AARP, said in a statement. "Numerous groups across AARP retain media-agency support, so this is one of the areas we are evaluating. This is not an agency review on GSD&M, nor [is it] the only media-buying company we work with. It is a relationship we have valued over the years and continue to value. AARP regularly reviews contracts, so this is not something out of the norm for our organization."

Ms. Alvarez added that GSD&M is considered the "lead brand agency" for AARP.

AARP significantly increased its ad outlays in 2011, according to Kantar. It spent $229.9 million on measured media, 24% more than in 2010.

It's yet another account uncertainty for GSD&M. Kohler went into review in November, and Southwest Airlines, a client for more than three decades, is looking beyond GSD&M for creative. The agency did, however, pick up creative duties for eHarmony earlier this month. Last fall, it garnered agency of record status for Crown Imports' Pacifica and Victoria beer brands and vacation-rental marketplace HomeAway.

Contributing: Rupal Parekh

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