Argentina's biggest firm ditches no. 1 agency in shock move

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BUENOS AIRES - Argentina oil mogul YPF S.A. has announced that it is moving its $20m advertising account from the country's number one ad agency Ayer Vazquez to significantly smaller rival Vincit Publicidad as of January 1, 1997.

The country's biggest company gave no reasons for the decision, made public in a brief press release. The news, however, shook Ayer Vazquez, holder for five years of the YPF account which represents one-quarter of the agency's $96m annual billings. Ayer Vazquez is 10% owned by N.W. Ayer & Partners of the U.S..

In a press release of its own, the agency maintained that its successful ad campaigns had increased YPF gasoline sales by 20%, while a recent commercial for YPF diesel was in line to become Argentina's commercial of the year. The two companies have worked closely to change YPF's image since it was privatized in 1993 into that of a slick, modern operator.

"These measures have come as a tremendous surprise to us, especially taking into account that until now there has been neither professional nor operating conflicts," ," reads the Ayer press release. "In fact, client/agency relations were experiencing an exceptional moment...YPF's decision is unusual, careless and unfair. For us and for YPF."

According to accounts in the local press, Ayer President Jorge Vazquez took the decision badly, saying: "I'm in love with my work and this account (YPF) changed my life." Ayer followed YPF abroad to take charge of its foreign publicity as well as creating an unique computer graphics program for the company.

Vincit Publicidad, ranked 24th among Argentine ad agencies, with 1995 billings of $8.6m, is expected to grow by 300% in 1997 thanks to its latest client, said President Pedro Naon Argerich. With 43 years in the Argentine market, Vincit already has significant experience in the petroleum industry with accounts such as Shell and Amoco. During the last three years, Vincit has slowly been acquiring YPF business.

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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