DiNoto/Lee, another contender, believed it was the winner and already had begun preliminary ad work, said executives close to the floral delivery network.
The agency, these executives said, was told by FTD earlier in June that it had won the account though no contract was signed. On June 26, FTD announced Doner had won (AA, June 23).
A spokeswoman for FTD said: "Only one offer was made to an agency and that was W.B. Doner."
Executives at DiNoto/Lee declined comment.
It was rumored that FTD was seeking to buy the rights to the National PromoFlor Council character called "Buzz the Bee," created by Deutsch, New York. But the FTD spokeswoman denied that.
"Buzz" is free because of the dissolution of the council last week, which represents a $10 million account loss for Deutsch. PromoFlor was a government-sanctioned promotional program overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
TIME OF INTENSE COMPETITION
Doner assumes responsibility for FTD-which links 22,000 independent retail florists across North America-at a time of intense competition due to a merger between competitors Teleflora Inc. and Redbook Florists Service.
Even though FTD has named its agency, it is still without a head of marketing. VP-Advertising Lou Nagy left earlier this year following a consolidation; in the interim, consultant Mike Soenen has been overseeing marketing.
2ND SWITCH IN 3 YEARS
The agency change is the second since Perry Capital Corp. bought FTD in 1994. Grey Advertising won the account in 1995 from 16-year incumbent D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Ad spending had increased from $12 million in 1994 to $35 million at the time of the Grey appointment, but 1996 spending was tracked at just $16 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Agencies in this latest review were told that spending would be $20 million to $40 million.
Grey officially resigned the business June 18 for what it said were "philosophical differences with the company's management." However, by the time Grey resigned, FTD had been talking with an estimated 10 other shops about the account (AA, April 28).
Contributing: Jean Halliday.