PRODIGY NARROWS ITS REVIEW: KIRSHENBAUM, TBWA AMONG THOSE REMAINING

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Prodigy last week narrowed the list of 12 agencies vying for its $10 million account to a handful of New York shops, including Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, Warwick Baker O'Neill, TBWA Chiat/Day and Compelling Content, Advertising Age has learned.

Prodigy will retain the silver-ball logo and branding imagery developed by former agency Weiss, Whitten, Stagliano, New York.

New branding creative is expected before Labor Day, said one company executive familiar with Prodigy's marketing plans, which include more international and direct marketing (AA, May 19).

An agency is expected to be named by July 15.

Prodigy's short-list choices are interesting given those international and direct marketing needs. At this point, it's unclear if Prodigy's new agency will handle direct response.

SEEKING OVERSEAS GROWTH

Parent company Prodigy Inc. earlier this year announced plans to allocate $179 million to development overseas. Roughly $50 million of that is intended for expansion in Asian markets, especially China, where it launched a service April 29. It also plans to expand into Latin American markets and Mexico this fall.

TBWA Chiat/Day previously handled Prodigy rival America Online (AA, May 5). While TBWA Chiat/Day has international resources from which to draw, the other three agencies depend on alliances.

Compelling Content has an alliance with Interpublic Group of Cos., while Warwick Baker O'Neill is part of Interpartners Network, a global affiliation of midsize independent agencies that work together on pitches and assignments. Kirshenbaum works internationally through Worldwide Partners.

Prodigy-which suffered during 1995-96 as former owners IBM Corp. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. mulled ways to back out of ownership-hired Weiss, Whitten, Stagliano last year to help relaunch an online service under a new brand called Prodigy Internet using a Web-based platform.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

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