Conn. RFP Gets Agency Gripes

Connecticut’s planned consolidation of $10 million in marketing business is causing a stir among some state agencies, including its largest, which is not participating in the review.

“I don’t give Connecticut any credit when it comes to marketing,” said Grant MacDonald, a partner at independent North Castle Partners in Stamford, which held the state’s anti-smoking account from 2000-2002. The size and scope of the 70-page RFP indicates the state “doesn’t know what it wants,” he said.

The RFP, issued two weeks ago, is for work that is now split among nearly 50 agencies, design shops and independent contractors. The $3 million tourism business is included, along with work for the Department of Public Health and the Department of Transportation, among others.

“The state of Connecticut wants to stop overpaying for particular goods and services,” a state rep said. “Under the state’s current advertising contract, the hourly rates that the state pays its vendors for the same function vary by as much as 50 percent. This is inefficient.”

“[The RFP] did not seem to be in the spirit [of getting] the best product, it seems to be in the spirit of getting the cheapest product,” said Chuck Mascola, president of Mascola Advertising in New Haven, which splits the tourism account with New Haven’s McLaughlin Delvecchio & Casey. Mascola said his shop will not participate. MDC is expected to compete, as is Cronin & Co. in Glastonbury, which holds several pieces of state business.

Proposals are due March 29, with a decision expected in early May.