IN MIDDLE OF REVIEW, KIA DROPS CONSULTANT

$250 Million Account Search Was Handled by AAR

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One month after putting the creative portion of its $240 million advertising account in review, Kia Motors America today said it is looking to hire a new search consultant to handle the next phase of the process.

Handling Subaru
Until now, New York City-based consultant

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AAR Partners had been handling the review for Kia, but AAR took on the Kia search while already conducting a search on behalf of another automotive company, Subaru of America.

"We've used AAR for the first part of the review," said Kia spokesman Kim Custer. "They've assembled a long list of candidates. We decided that the best way to proceed is to work with another agency that is not handling a car account."

The decision by the automakers, as well as by AAR, to have one consultant handle two creative reviews simultaneously was troubling to many in the industry. The major concern was that the agency options of one of the companies would suffer. "I'm shocked by it all," the head of one global network told Advertising Age last month. "One company will be playing second fiddle."

AAR did not return a call for comment.

Trouble finding new consultant
One consultant, who asked not to be named, said Kia might have trouble finding an agency to pick up the process mid-stream because the agency would be "inheriting someone else's process and selections that may or may not make sense."

Independent agency David & Goliath, Los Angeles, has handled Kia's creative account since 1999. Aegis' Carat USA of New York and Irvine, Calif., does Kia's media buying. Media planning and buying are not part of the review.

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Hillary Chura contributed to this report.

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