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DUESSELDORF -- Germany's leading hardware marketer, OBI, has awarded its $19 million advertising business to Grey Worldwide, Duesseldorf, ending a 10-year relationship with WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, Frankfurt.

Grey will handle creative for Germany and other international markets where OBI has chains, including Austria, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The appointment follows a three-way pitch including Baader Hermes Y&R, Hamburg, and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, Frankfurt. The incumbent did not repitch. The Wermelskirchen-based retailer posted $4.1 billion in sales last year, of which 80% was generated in Germany. Launched 21 years ago, OBI has a total 438 stores and employs 23,000 staff.

OBI's marketing activities include sponsorship of the national football team and national women's and men's basketball teams. The retailer has also hosted national street basketball tournaments, usually held in huge parking places in major cities. -- Dagmar Mussey

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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