The prize: Chrysler Group's estimated $2.4 billion consolidated, global creative and media account for the Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth and Jeep brands.
Arthur "Bud" Liebler, senior VP-global marketing at Chrysler Group, said since both holding companies are publicly traded, the individual meetings that day with their top executives started late in the afternoon to coincide with the stock market closing.
Here's a blow-by-blow look at that afternoon:
4-4:30 p.m. (ET) Omnicom CEO John Wren meets at DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., with clients Ted Cunningham, exec VP-global sales and marketing, and Mr. Liebler. "We still had some issues," says Mr. Liebler, including ensuring Mr. Wren understood DaimlerChrysler would get a seat on the board of the newly created BBDO agency, PentaMark Worldwide. Messrs. Cunningham and Liebler broke the good news to Mr. Wren and gave him a letter confirming BBDO as winner.
5-5:15 p.m. True North Chairman-CEO David Bell meets with Messrs. Cunningham and Liebler. He's given a letter terminating the business in 180 days. "He was shocked and disappointed," recalls Mr. Liebler. Mike Vogel, president-CEO of FCB's Southfield office, waited outside the meeting room. Mr. Bell left Auburn Hills after the meeting.
5-6:15 p.m. Mr. Liebler checks and rechecks the release that will be faxed to news media and the e-mail that will be sent to all dealers.
6:15 p.m. News media teleconference scheduled to begin. Mr. Liebler, who, like outsiders, must dial into the call, can't get access to his own press conference because the phone system is jammed. "We must have tried calling 25 times because we couldn't get in."
The carmaker expected the typical 50 to 75 reporters who traditionally call in for monthly earnings teleconferences. But both agencies gave the access number to staff and more than 450 people are on the line. Callers who are holding hear flute music and at one point, apparently from a PR staffer commenting about agency staff: "Do we need to be prepared for some irate employees?"
Tom Marinelli, global brand VP of Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep Division and Jim Julow, global brand VP of Dodge Division, call key dealer ad association presidents to tell them the news.
6:35 p.m. The news conference finally starts after the automaker secures additional lines.
7 p.m. FCB's Mr. Vogel records a voice-mail for senior agency executives about the decision.
7:05 p.m. Mr. Liebler ends the teleconference.
7:05-7:30 p.m. Mr. Liebler answers lingering questions from individual reporters who call back.
8 p.m. Messrs. Liebler and Cunningham have dinner with Mr. Wren at Lelli's, an Italian restaurant in Auburn Hills. The client picks up the check.