AMTRAK OPENS REVIEW FOR $18 MILLION ACCOUNT

16 Agencies Receive Request for Credentials

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Financially strapped Amtrak has put its $18 million creative account up for review, a spokeswoman said today.

Requests for credentials were sent to 16 agencies, including incumbent White & Baldacci, Herndon, Va., though the spokeswoman declined to identify the other 15 shops. The search is part of a regular cycle in which the federally funded railroad service must conduct a review every two years.

Winner to be named in June
The spokeswoman said Amtrak should complete the review by the end of June.

The account was previously at WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, before landing at White & Baldacci in late 2001. Amtrak had measured media spending as high as $30 million in 2001 before dropping to $18 million last year, according Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, and has had financial problems for years.

Earlier this month, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Michael P. Jackson told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Treasury that "Amtrak is an organization with profound financial difficulties. Its current budget request to Congress acknowledges that for over 30 years, Amtrak has lurched from one financial crisis to another."

Avoiding bankruptcy
To avoid bankruptcy, the Transportation Department allowed Amtrak to mortgage Penn Station in New York City in the summer of 2001 and provided Amtrak a $100 million loan under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program in the summer of 2002.

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