Two partner with OMD: California Lottery bid raises Omnicom issue

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Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day and DDB Worldwide have asked the California Lottery Commission whether they can both pitch with Omnicom media agency OMD.

The question, which is an interesting one for Omnicom given that it has three powerful creative agencies that partner on much of their business with just one media agency, arose at a bidders' conference at Lottery headquarters in Sacramento last week.

It was Rick Carpenter, president, Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Los Angeles, who asked Lottery officials if a holding company with two creative agency bidders could bid with the same media shop. Mike Harris, director of strategy of TBWA, San Francisco, added that both DDB and his shop would be partnering on the media portion of the pitch with OMD.

Lottery general counsel Joe Symkowick responded that the Lottery has concerns about "collaborating" among bid participants and added that the Lottery "can't have interlocking people knowing and directing the bid." After a short discussion, however, Mr. Symkowick and the Lottery panel took the question under advisement and indicated a decision would be posted on the Lottery Web site. That response had not been posted at press time.

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In most reviews for publicly held and private companies, joint ownership of media has failed to materialize as a significant issue even though "the fact is four holding companies own the majority of media resources," said Russel Wohlwerth, principal, Select Resources International, West Hollywood, Calif. Mr. Wohlwerth, however, noted that it would be difficult to have one media buying company develop two different proposals.

An Omnicom executive referred calls to OMD, which could not be reached at press time. Executives from Omnicom's shops involved in the Lottery bid declined to comment.

Some 40 people representing about a dozen agencies attended the mandatory bidders' conference. Among those agencies present were incumbent Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, Los Angeles, and the three shops named winners at some point in the last round of the review: DDB and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, Los Angeles, and FCB, San Francisco.

Others present included Interpublic's Hill Holliday; Publicis in the West and WPP's Young & Rubicam, all San Francisco; and independent shops David & Goliath, Los Angeles; and Runyon, Salzman & Einhorn, Sacramento. Even Interpublic's Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., which sued the Lottery in 1992 for breaking its contract and reached an out-of-court settlement, was represented.

The latest RFP omits a clause that would have made the winning agency responsible for costs resulting from any lawsuit from a losing bidder (AA, Nov. 10, P.3).

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