BMW CONTACTS AGENCIES FOR $160 MILLION AD ACCOUNT

Request for Information Due Back in Two Weeks

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- BMW of North America has contacted almost a dozen agencies in the initial stages of its search for a new agency for its $160 million account.
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The request for information, from search consultant Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., is due back in two weeks, executives familiar with the situation said.

Agencies
Among those believed to have been contacted in the initial stages of the review are: Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.; Strawberry Frog, New York; Venables, Bell & Partners, San Francisco; Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas; and WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York; MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and Margeotes Fertitta Powell, both New York, and Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles

In addition, the incumbents on a regional portion of the account -- Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, New York and Dallas, and WPP's Grey Worldwide, Los Angeles -- are expected to make it to the finalists round. Last month, BMW assigned Publicis to handle interim TV work, while Grey won a radio assignment.

Publicis' Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, the automaker's agency for 10 years, resigned the account when the car maker called a review.

Mini connection
Crispin Porter is the agency for BMW's Mini USA division. BMW's new vice president of marketing, Jack Pitney, previously headed the Mini division, where he worked with Crispin Porter. Earlier this year, he switched posts with James McDowell who was vice president of marketing for BMW.

Executives at the agencies, along with the consultant and BMW, either declined comment or did not return calls.

As part of the review process, the marketer will visit a shortlist of about a half-dozen agencies for "chemistry" meetings. After finalists are named, final presentations will follow.

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Jean Halliday and Lisa Sanders contributed to this report.