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FRANKFURT -- Deutsche Bundesbank here has assigned Michael Conrad & Leo Burnett, Frankfurt the task of encouraging people to return German currency coins and notes before the official launch of the euro, the single European currency, in 2002.

However, with such a huge logistical problem to solve, Deutsche Bundesbank is calling on other banks, consumer associations and retailers for input to the campaign's content.

The return of German coins in time for a smooth handover to the euro currency is particularly crucial in Germany -- the largest European Union market with 80 million people and eight different denominations of coin.

According to the bank, there were around 48 billion coins in circulation at the end of 1999, a number that has since shrunk to around 28 billion. But it's estimated that Germans have stored a further 6 billion to 10 billion in bottles, boxes or "Sparschwein" (piggy banks), which are often hidden away.

Euro coins will be available at German banks from Dec. 17. However, they will only be accepted by retailers from Jan. 1, 2002.

The TV and print campaign will kick off in the second week of May and run for around one month only. A second burst is expected in the fall, though no decision has been made on that. Bcom3 Group's Starcom handles media planning and buying.

Deutsche Bundesbank will not reveal the other four agencies pitching for the creative account. However, it's likely that Publicis, Frankfurt, which is handling other euro campaigns, was involved. The budget is not disclosed.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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