Cox Narrows $20 Mil. Search

Cox Communications has narrowed the review for the creative portion of its $20 million account to a handful of finalists, sources said.

Competing for the cable company’s business are Martin/Williams in Minneapolis, Doner in Southfield, Mich., Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago and Trone Advertising, Greensboro, S.C., sources said.

RedDragon Consulting in Atlanta is handling the review. The search has been ongoing for three months, according to an official at RedDragon.

Officials from the agencies involved in the pitch either could not be reached or declined comment. Officials at Cox Communications headquarters in Atlanta did not return calls.

The agencies have completed two rounds of presentations, the most recent taking place last week, and a decision could come as early as next week, sources said.

Cox Communications, a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, operates 25 cable TV systems in 70 markets, primarily in the South and West. Much of the cable is broadband, which, like the highly touted AOL Time Warner systems with which Cox competes, delivers streaming media, voice, data and interactive content to consumers.

The company put its account into review in December when incumbent BBDO South in Atlanta resigned after the BBDO network won Cingular Wireless’ $250 million account.

Cox Communications spent $20 million on advertising over the first 10 months of last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. That figure does not include all “cross-channel” advertising, which covers the media company’s chain of newspapers and TV stations.

The winning agency will be expected to develop a high-profile print, radio, TV, interactive and direct marketing advertising campaign for the cable company. The shop is expected to produce 15-20 spots a year.

“Client criteria demands an agency that can deliver not only the marketing communications, but one that can manage so many disparate pieces,” said Hope Schultz, a partner at RedDragon.

Two of the competitors have met before, indirectly. In 1999 Martin/Williams successfully pitched against incumbent Pollack Levitt Nel and other shops for the $25-30 million Powertel account. The loss of Powertel led PLN to sell to Trone.