MITSUBISHI EXPECTED TO SELECT BBDO AS AGENCY

Automaker in Negotiations for Creative Account

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Mitsubishi Motors North America is negotiating with Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, to handle its national and regional creative agency of record, executives close to the automaker said.
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Mitsubishi had been discussing contract terms with the winner for several days, one of the executives said.

The automaker did not return calls by press time.

Four finalists
The agency was one of four finalists that made presentations earlier this month to Mitsubishi, which, along with its Japanese parent, is trying to return to profitability. The other contenders were Publicis Groupe's Publicis West, Seattle, and Publicis and Hal Riney, San Francisco; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' TM Advertising, Dallas.

Executives said the three agencies have not been notified of Mitsubishi's decision. None of the agencies, including BBDO, returned calls.

The decision must be approved by executives at Mitsubsishi's parent in Japan, an executive familiar with the situation said.

Incumbent was Deutsch
The account's incumbent agency, Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles, withdrew from the review in January. The agency won the account in 1998 after a review. Omnicom's PHD handles media duties on the account.

Mitsubishi's annual ad spending had been around $300 million, but the marketer dropped its 2005 budget to $200 million, according to the request for proposals.

Executive exodus
The automaker has seen an exodus of top executives in recent months, including former President-CEO Finbarr O'Neill and Ian Beavis, senior vice president of marketing and product planning. David Schembri joined Mitsubishi Feb. 14 in the new post of executive vice president of sales and marketing from Mercedes-Benz USA.

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, was the consultant on the review.

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