No Verbal Pitch Allowed; Winner Selected by Anonymous Panel

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Purina Mills Horse Business Group awarded its multimillion-dollar national horse feed print account to Left Field Creative, St. Louis, following an unusual blind-to-the-client creative competition.

Incumbent Osborn & Born Communications declined to participate in the review, in which Core Communications, St. Louis, also was a finalist. Five other Midwest agencies also participated, but John Hamilton, marketing manager for Purina Mills, would not name them.

The six competing agencies, selected on the basis of past creative and strategic work and proximity to the client, were given a stipend to "make it [the review] worth their while," Mr. Hamilton said. Each then created a print ad.

Panel of employee-judges
The work was reviewed anonymously by a panel of about a dozen people, including St. Louis-based consultant Larry Weber and 10 Purina Mills employees, including Mr. Hamilton and Frank Moore, director of the Horse Business Group.

They selected the agency based entirely on the ad prefered by the majority of the review panel. Participating agencies at no point made any personal pitch to the client.

"We didn't want an account executive up there explaining the meaning of a typeface or how a certain color would affect mood," Mr. Weber said in a statement. "We knew the best work would stand apart from the field."

"You could tell [Left Field] understood the customer and took the time to talk to the customer," Mr. Hamilton said.

Purina Mills, the largest U.S. producer of livestock feed, is not affiliated with Nestle USA's Purina pet food brand.

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