3 Shops Reach Finals of SUV Safety Competition

ATLANTA Three agencies have advanced in the review for a national $30 million sport utility vehicle safety program.

The Florida Attorney General’s office, which is administering the program, will hear presentations from Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco and Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York (which is partly owned by Publicis Groupe); and Havas’ Euro RSCG Tatham in Chicago.

Eliminated were independent shops Wolf Group in New York, Fogarty Klein Monroe in Houston, MARC USA in Pittsburgh and Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago.

Interpublic Group’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston was disqualified for not following the rules of the pitch. A subcontractor of the agency made improper contact with client officials, so the agency was not evaluated, a client representative said, declining to elaborate. The agency did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

A committee in Tallahassee, Fla., evaluated agencies based on reels and credentials last week. Finalists will present completed assignments Jan. 20-22, the client said. A decision is expected Jan. 30. Pile and Co. in Boston is overseeing the search.

The account is budgeted for one year. Funds come from an agreement between Ford Motor Co., the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The states charged that Ford misled consumers about the safe use of sport utility vehicles.

This story updates an item posted earlier today to include Hill, Holliday’s disqualification.