Four Agencies Left as Finalists

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DETROIT ( -- Omnicom Group's GSD&M withdrew yesterday as a finalist in Subaru of America's creative review, a spokesman for the Austin, Texas-based agency said. The agency's retreat marks the latest twist in the agency search.

Finalists just announced
GSD&M dropped out a day after Subaru

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announced a revised list of finalists July 28. The new list added two New York-based agencies to a shorlist of three announced the prior week by search consultant AAR Partners. GSD&M was one of those three. The GSD&M spokesman declined further comment.

"This thing mysteriously got re-opened real fast" after the first finalist list was announced, said an industry executive not tied to the review.

Neither Subaru nor AAR returned calls by press time.

New criteria
Early in the process AAR said it had "too large a universe based on the criteria [from the marketer] we've been given." Shortly after an earlier questionnaire went out, Subaru and the New York-based consultant decided on minimum billing requirements for agencies to qualify, AAR said in June. An agency not willing to open an office near Subaru's Cherry Hill, N.J., headquarters would be disqualified in the first round, the consultant said then.

Three of the four remaining finalists are in New York: Omnicom's DDB Worldwide; WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson Worldwide. Interpublic's Martin agency, Richmond, Va., is the other finalist. The incumbent, Interpublic's TM Advertising, Dallas, is no longer defending.

Kia review
GSD&M is believed to be waiting to hear whether it will advance to the next round of Kia Motors America's creative review. A Kia spokesmam said a cut is expected next week.

Kia originally hired AAR as its consultant after Subaru's review was already under way. But the South Korean importer switched to Achenbaum Bogda Associates July 14.

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