AOL SEEKS AGENCY FOR $60 MILLION AD ACCOUNT

Sends RFP for Interactive Work to 15 Shops

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Time Warner's America Online today confirmed it has sent request for proposal letters to about 15 shops for its interactive creative and media account, estimated to be worth $55 million to $60 million.

Incumbents
Omnicom Group's atmosphereBBDO, New York,

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currently handles AOL's interactive creative, while Doner, Southfield, Mich., handles the media buying and planning portion. Doner is not defending the account, though atmosphereBBDO is, and it's also expected to fill the breach once Doner's contract expires at year-end.

The media portion of the interactive account represents the majority of the budget, although a spokeswoman declined to specify a figure.

Separate reviews
The AOL spokeswoman also said the interactive review is separate from the estimated $300 million U.S. media review for the AOL account. RFP letters for that review have not gone out yet. Pile & Co., Boston, is conducting that search.

In a statement, atmosphereBBDO said, "We fully understand AOL's decision to conduct a review. We have a great relationship with AOL and are proud of the work we have produced together for the launch of AOL 9.0 Optimized." Sibling BBDO Worldwide handles non-Internet advertising for AOL 9.0 and related broadband services.

Review details
The review brief includes creative resources, agency staffing, media buying and planning and direct response. AOL is seeking a shop with a dominant interactive practice on the East Coast or with an office in the mid-Atlantic region.

Susan Goodman, Goodman & Co., New York, is the review consultant; John Lane, AOL's vice president for online marketing, is leading the review. While it declined to name agencies that were sent RFP letters, AOL said it was looking for media-only and creative-only agencies or agencies that do both.

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Claire Atkinson contributed to this report.