WHITE HOUSE DRUG OFFICE PUTS ACCOUNT IN PLAY

Proposals Requested for $152 Million Ad Program

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy today released a request for proposals for its $152 million account, which
Photo: AP
White House drug office seeks proposals

Access RFP Document
> Go to http://www.neco.navy.mil/
> Click on 'Business Opportunities'
> Enter contract # N0060002R0123


it is re-bidding after a dispute with WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide earlier this summer over billings.

The 111-page request is for a one-year contract with an option for three additional years. The option, however, depends on whether Congress appropriates the money for the program. President George W. Bush will deliver his budget to Congress next February, the first chance to see whether the program continues to be funded and at what level.

Feds' largest campaign
The drug office, which administers the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, aims to prevent first-time illicit drug use among the nation's youth. The campaign is run in conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug Free America and the Ad Council. It is the largest media campaign run by the federal government.

Although it expressed pleasure with the work performed by Ogilvy, the drug office opted to re-bid the account in August when Ogilvy came under scrutiny from the Justice Department over its billing practices.

Ogilvy maintains it was an accounting error; North American CEO Tro Piliguian said in a letter to Advertising Age that while the agency "did not meet its accounting obligations"

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under the "unique government contract," Ogilvy has "taken the decisive steps necessary to prevent these issues in the future."

Likely candidates
The drug office is seeking agencies with government experience, leading many to believe that WPP's YR advertising, former agency for the U.S. Army; Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, current agency for the Army; and former drug office agencies Cordiant Communication's Bates Worldwide and Zenith Media, also co-owned by Publicis Groupe, will bid for the account.

Ethnically diverse outreach
The request is open to all agencies, however, and the document did make mention that the account is a fully integrated social marketing campaign with a multicultural outreach. It called an ethnically diverse outreach "critical," with "messages tailored to a broad range of racial and ethnic audiences."

A bidders conference will be held in Washington Nov. 8. The proposals are due Nov. 29.