GM AWARDS OLYMPICS AD PROJECT TO BERLIN, GOING OUTSIDE ROSTER: BUT AYER BEATS OUT AGENCY FOR CORPORATE PROJECT

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General Motors Corp. once again is going outside its agency roster, formally tapping Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, for an assignment tied to its sponsorship of U.S. Olympic teams.

Berlin, which declined to comment, is said to have been working on strategy and other aspects of the project for months.

Separately, though, Berlin lost a shootout with GM's corporate agency, N.W. Ayer & Partners, Detroit and New York, for a corporate project, according to executives close to the situation.

GM is said to have tested creative work from both agencies, with Ayer's scoring better.

Executives close to the situation said Berlin had an edge in nabbing the Olympic project because the agency also handles NBC's $50 million to $60 million in Olympic Games advertising.

ESCALADE FIRST

Berlin, formed late in 1997, seems to have its foot firmly in GM's door. Last fall, it landed the assignment to create the launch spot for Cadillac's Escalade sport-utility vehicle, after a shoot-out with Cadillac agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich.

Similar smaller assignments for GM eventually resulted in a large piece of business for Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, which landed the $70 million GMC Truck account in fall 1997. Ammirati will also handle GMC's new regional ad

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