CALIF. MILLIONS AWAIT AGENCY WINNERS:ISSUE-ORIENTED AS WELL AS LOTTERY ACCOUNTS REVIEW ABOUT $50 MIL

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Following state-mandated reviews, upwards of $50 million annually in California government ad accounts is up for grabs.

J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco, is expected to defend its state lottery account, for which the state now is sending out requests for proposals. Agency watchers contend the relationship between JWT and the lottery is good.

IN FOR ROUGH TIMES

Still, the lottery, which is targeted to spend $21.5 million in fiscal 1996-97, has been through some turmoil, including being ordered by the state Supreme Court in June to drop a popular keno game. In a case brought by horse-racing interests, the court ruled keno couldn't be offered because it has a fixed prize rather than the open-ended prize of lottery games.

Also, the lottery halted vending-machine sales after concluding they violated a state law.

The two moves instantly zapped 20% of the lottery's $2.3 billion annual revenues, causing a cut in upcoming budgets. The $21.5 million is down from previous years. The lottery spent $146.6 million over the past five years, or about $29 million a year, said Laura Colson, the lottery's contract administrator.

The state also is reviewing agencies for its anti-tobacco advertising, which is being supported by spending of $49 million over the next three years. Incumbent Asher/Gould, Los Angeles, hopes to keep the business.

"I believe the tobacco industry is an evil industry," said Bruce Silverman, the agency's president, and anti-tobacco advertising is "a good thing on a humanitarian basis" because it helps people to quit or not start smoking.

CLIENT ROSTER SCRUTINIZED

Because of stringent rules, agencies with clients connected to tobacco companies can't pitch the account. Also, large national agencies have long shied away from California's high-profile anti-smoking account.

The state is preparing for rebids on its $13 million-a-year, three-year teen pregnancy prevention account. Asher/Gould won the new account in the first bidding and will compete again.

Following a protest by runnerup Evans, Los Angeles, the state reopened the review after deciding a section of the original request for proposals was unclear.

BREAST-CANCER PROGRAM

Finally, California soon will seek requests for a $3 million, three-year breast cancer detection account. Incumbent Porter/Novelli, Los Angeles, plans to compete.

Agency proposals for the anti-tobacco review are due in late September; the breast cancer proposals are due in early October; and the teen-pregnancy proposal deadline is late October.

The lottery review is expected to be completed in January.M

Contributing: Jeff Jensen.

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