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(May 31, 2001) PARIS -- Publicis Groupe's Optimedia International has reclaimed the $16.8 million pan-European Polo Ralph Lauren media planning and buying account it was bumped off in a global consolidation drive in 1998.

The creative business remains with Carlson & Partners, New York.

The low-key pitch was held in France earlier this year and managed through Optimedia Paris, which will co-ordinate the account. The incumbent was Aegis Group's Carat International, but no details of other contenders were made available.

Optimedia has retained a link to Ralph Lauren since a global alignment into DDB Needham ended its tenure on the business three years ago; it works for L'Oreal fragrances, which market Ralph Lauren branded fragrances and aftershaves.

"It's a great testament to the work we did with the client initially and the ongoing relationship through L'Oreal that they've decided to come back and work with [us]," said Optimedia International Marketing Director Sandra Collins. "We have tremendous fashion credentials ... and we demonstrated we could be creative within all communications with budgets that don't have to be enormous."

Brands within the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation include Polo, Polo Sport, Ralph, Chaps and Polo Jeans Company. -- Suzanne Bidlake

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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