GROWING USED-CAR SHOPS REV UP SOME AD POTENTIAL;SEARCH TEAM SET: FIVE AGENCY FINALISTS

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The used-car superstore phenomenon is creating some potentially lucrative new ad accounts.

Driver's Mart Worldwide, Grand Rapids, Mich., an alliance of nine major new-car dealers that plans to expand to about 30 dealers running more than 100 used-car operations, is seeking a shop to develop a branded network.

The search team will be headed by President-CEO Thomas Eggleston, formerly senior operating executive for Amway Corp., and Director of Operations Gary Marcotte, who helped develop Lexus' program for pre-owned cars when he was manager-special markets for the Toyota Motor Sales USA division.

While Driver's Mart gears up for a review, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based AutoNation USA is said to have narrowed the list of agency contenders for its chain of stores that will begin with two Florida sites this year.

Five agencies are said to be finalists for the AutoNation account: Richards Group and Tracy-Locke, Dallas; Earle Palmer Brown Cos., Bethesda, Md.; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston; and Tucker Wayne/Luckie & Co., Atlanta.

AutoNation and Driver's Mart probably won't top $5 million each in ad spending this year. But with dealer-sold used cars currently an estimated $100 billion-plus industry, billings-growth potential is huge if a superstore can achieve regional or national stature.

Jeffery D. Zbar and Mark Gleason contributed to this story.

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