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(Sept. 5, 2001) JOHANNESBURG -- BMW has assigned the Mini launch advertising business in South Africa to TBWA Hunt Lascaris.

The appointment followed a four-way pitch including Lowe Lintas Bull Calvert Pace; KingJames, a Cape Town independent; and Red Nail, part of the Leo Burnett Worldwide.

One of the unsuccessful contenders is believed to have spent $60,000 on its pitch, a high-stakes bet for an account believed to be worth between $1 million and $1.5 million in media in its first year.

"It's not a big budget, but it's a very prestigious account," said TBWA Hunt Lascaris Chairman Reg Lascaris.

The Mini will launch next March.

Although TBWA Hunt Lascaris, South Africa's third biggest agency group, has handled the BMW business for 15 years, the choice of three much smaller agencies to pitch against it led to speculation that the client was looking for a newer, fresher approach.

Lowe Lintas is ranked 12th among South African agencies and KingJames 23rd. Red Nail, which doesn't report separate figures from Leo Burnett Worldwide, is a little larger than KingJames. -- Tony Koenderman

Copyright September 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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