MIDAS OPENS REVIEW OF CREATIVE ACCOUNT

Incumbent Cliff Freeman Will Be Invited to Pitch

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Midas said it has put its creative advertising account into review, nearly a year after the debut of a much-maligned campaign by its agency, Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York.

Closed review
A Midas spokesman called it a "closed review," saying the automotive services retailer would invite six to eight agencies from Chicago and elsewhere, including Cliff Freeman, to participate. (The incumbent did not return calls for comment by press time.) Aegis Group's Carat, New York, will continue to handle media planning and buying. Midas hopes to have a decision by summer.

Midas has switched agencies often since

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ending its 25-year relationship with Wells Rich Greene BDDP in July 1995. Observers are doubtful Midas will return to former Chicago agencies it has used: Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide; WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson; and Havas' Euro RSCG Tatham Partners.

Geriatric nudity
Cliff Freeman won the account in October 2001, and its inaugural effort the following year promoting Midas' lifetime guarantee featured an elderly woman flashing her sagging bosom after asking: "Lifetime guarantee? That's great. What can you do with these?" Widely panned, the spot was considered one of the most distasteful ads of the year. Some observers wondered what had taken Midas so long to cut the agency loose after such a blazing misfire.

Midas' 2003 media plan will primarily use local radio and limited promotional TV spots from re-cut commercials produced by Cliff Freeman, the Midas spokesman said. He wouldn't disclose the marketing budget but said Midas spends half of a 10% royalty payment from franchisees for advertising and marketing expenditures. Midas posted sales of $333 million in 2002, according to the company's annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Midas spent $40.6 million in measured media in 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

In January, the company named Alan Feldman, a former president of McDonald's Corp., as president-CEO, following a management shakeup.