OGILVY KEEPS WHITE HOUSE ANTI-DRUG ACCOUNT

Surprise Move Comes Despite Criminal Investigation

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide is keeping the White House anti-drug advertising account in a major surprise that could draw congressional criticism.

The announcement was made by the Department of Defense; the U.S. Navy handled the technical details of administering the $150 million-a-year contract for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Partnership for Drug Free America continues to do most of the creative for the campaign.

Congressional pressure
While Ogilvy's

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research and media buying work for the drug program has drawn praise from the ONDCP, the drug office has been under congressional pressure to drop Ogilvy surrounding billing issues on the media planning and buying account that resulted in civil and crminal charges.

Ogilvy didn't have a required government accounting system in place when it won the account in 1998, and it eventually settled for $1.8 million government charges that it overbilled the government for 1999 work.

Criminal investigation
A criminal investigation looking into alleged changes Ogilvy made to employee time sheets used to support the bills is continuing.

Ogilvy put a new accounting system in place, but with the ad agency's billings under attack from several legislators, the drug office put the account in review.

Besides Ogilvy, the other ad teams pitching were Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York, pitching with Initiative Media; Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, partnered with Universal McCann; Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Worldwide, New York, bidding with Zenith Media; and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, also bidding with Zenith. Each of the teams also had paretnerships with agencies specializing in minority marketing.

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