Clarke, Irma Mann Battle for Development Office

Clarke Goward and Irma S. Mann, Strategic Marketing are facing off for the advertising account of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development.
The Boston shops were the only qualified firms to return MOBD’s initial questionnaire, said client spokeswoman Brenda Doherty. Clarke Goward and Irma S. Mann will make final presentations to MOBD officials later this month; a decision will be announced in June.
Law requires that the contract go out for bid at regular intervals. The budget, determined by the legislature, has not been finalized, but MOBD estimates spending at $300,000 to $1 million per year.
Three-year incumbent Skinner-James, Watertown, Mass., which had crafted direct mail and publicity efforts using the line “Powered by ingenuity,” declined to participate in the review [Adweek, Feb. 28].
Doherty said she does not view the lack of contenders as a negative and is pleased to have a pair of veteran contenders placing bids. Industry sources cited several factors contributing to the lack of interest in what previously has been viewed as a high-profile account.
Foremost, the surge of dot-com activity–with ad budgets that regularly top $10 million–continues to keep local agencies preoccupied and quashes interest in smaller accounts, observers said.
The reputation of state assignments for being work-intensive and politically charged may also have spooked potential suitors, sources said. Such factors likely contributed to the decision months ago by Holland Mark Edmund Ingalls, Boston, not to defend the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism business.
State reviews pose “a complicated process some agencies don’t feel comfortable with,” said Judy Austin, creative director of Irma S. Mann, which specializes in travel and destination marketing. Clarke Goward handles a mix of consumer and business clients and is well-versed in publicity through sister shop Clarke & Co. Executives at Clarke Goward did not return calls. K