The marketer has sent requests for proposals for a creative assignment to an undisclosed number of agencies, according to executives close to the situation, with a due date of today.
Unlike its several reviews last summer, the marketer has backed away from its desire for a Chicago agency, since shops outside the Windy City have received RFPs.
It's not clear which account or accounts will be affected; last July, Budget parked what it said was a $50 million-plus assignment at Publicis & Hal Riney, Chicago, for strategy to integrate various units; loyalty marketing; and creative for Budget Rent A Car, moving-truck rentals, new- and used-car sales, and airport parking.
ASSIGNMENT NEVER GREW
A Riney executive, however, said the account never grew beyond the rental-car assignment.
Riney's first integrated campaign for the rental-car unit broke in January, a $5 million push promoting deals on Ford Ranger compact pickups.
Mike Gavelek, VP-marketing at Budget, didn't return calls by press time. Last summer, after tapping Riney, he told Advertising Age any new businesses the expansion-minded marketer acquired "would more than likely" go to that agency.
The review-being handled by W.E. Hooper & Associates, Gibson Island, Md.-could be for travel-related units, such as Cruise America recreational-vehicle rent-als. But observers also speculated the marketer's new- and used-car sales may move from Riney. Budget could have concerns about the agency's handling of General Motors Corp.'s Saturn subsidiary.
Barry Krause, president of the shop's Chicago office, speculated his client probably was studying its options and declined comment.
Financially troubled in 1996, Budget was acquired by Ford Motor Co. In 1997, creative and media work were assigned to Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, after DDB Needham Worldwide, Dallas, resigned. Six months later, Ford sold Budget to its largest rental-car franchisee.
Last year, aside from acquiring Ryder TRS-handled by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich.-Budget Group held three reviews. In addition to the one in which Riney was selected, Hill Holliday declined to pitch media-buying after Budget said it wanted an agency close to the rental-car unit's headquarters. Leo Burnett Co.'s Starcom USA, Chicago, won the $35 million in consolidated buying.
Budget's third review consolidated its Yellow Pages advertising, a $26 million account TMP Worldwide, New York, won in September.