Apple late last week began cutting a longer list down to "a handful" of shops, according to an executive close to the review.
Separately, BBDO Worldwide sent Apple a letter formally saying it won't renew a global contract expiring in September. BBDO's move is no surprise, since Chairman Allen Rosenshine indicated the agency's intention to part after Apple announced a review of the U.S. account, now at BBDO West, Los Angeles.
VISITS START THIS WEEK
Apple will visit agencies this week and next. Those on the long list are believed to include: Arnold Communications, Boston; Dailey & Associates and DDB Needham Worldwide, Los Angeles; Foote, Cone & Belding, Hal Riney & Partners and Y&R Advertising, San Francisco; Merkley Newman Harty, New York; and Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.
DDB Needham and Y&R are Digital Equipment Corp. agencies, but there are signs Digital is consolidating at DDB Needham's New York office, which would free Y&R to pursue Apple.
TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., and New York, last week hadn't decided whether to compete. Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, which did project work for Apple last year, also may decline. Fallon appears more interested in the $12 million-plus account of Power Computing Corp., which markets Apple Macintosh clones.
Executives at some other agencies are privately sizing up prospects for an account that any agency would have been thrilled to pick up several years ago. Among the issues are whether brand advertising will be pushed aside by a need for move-the-boxes retail work.
David Roman, VP-advertising and brand communications, said Apple's long list consists of agencies preselected by Apple and consultant Jack McBride, plus several that lobbied to be included. The latter were agencies that Apple initially removed because of conflicts or concerns they were too busy to take on Apple.
Apple executives in other regions are assessing their advertising after Mr. Rosenshine's indication BBDO is resigning both the U.S. and $50 million to $70 million international account. Mr. Roman said Apple is not necessarily seeking to replace BBDO with another global network. But if the U.S. winner has a network in place, he said, Apple's international divisions might avail themselves of it.
Contributing: Mercedes M. Cardona, Alice Z. Cuneo, Laura Petrecca.