P&G MULLS INTERACTIVE AGENCY CONTENDERS

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Procter & Gamble Co. may select its first agency of record for interactive media as early as this week.

At least two P&G agencies-N W Ayer & Partners, New York, and Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, traveled to the company's Cincinnati headquarters Jan. 5 to pitch the business. Other P&G shops thought to be involved in the review include Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising; Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor; Grey Advertising; D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles; and Wells Rich Greene BDDP, all New York.

Burnett and Grey are believed to be the top contenders for the business; Grey, for example, is already developing a Cover Girl application for Time Warner's Orlando interactive TV test and a Cover Girl infomercial.

P&G declined to comment, but executives close to the review said the company wants to make a decision soon.

P&G's moves in interactive media have been closely watched since company Chairman-Chief Executive Edwin Artzt issued his "call to action" speech at the American Association of Advertising Agencies' meeting last May. He warned the future of ad-supported TV was in doubt and called on agencies to work together to define the TV market of the future. About 90% of P&G's $3 billion worldwide ad budget is devoted to TV.

The review follows Robert Herbold's November exit to Microsoft Corp. As senior VP-advertising and information services, he had spearheaded P&G's new-media efforts.

Debra Aho Williamson and Melanie Wells contributed to this story.

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