DaimlerChrysler Reviews Web Services

NEW YORK DaimlerChrysler is nearing a decision in a review of its Web development and digital marketing services, according to sources.

Omnicom Group’s Organic, which holds the bulk of the car maker’s interactive account, and sister shop Critical Mass, which works on the company’s Mercedes-Benz brand, competed in the final round, sources said. Organic is owned outright by Omnicom, which has a 50 percent stake in Critical Mass.

DaimlerChrysler spent approximately $10 million in online advertising for the first eight months of this year, about as much as it spent for all of 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Agency.com, another Omnicom i-shop, and Logica were involved in earlier stages of the interactive review, sources said.

At the height of the Internet boom, the DaimlerChrysler business at Organic accounted for more than $30 million in revenue or 25 percent of its overall revenue, according to the i-shop’s 2000 annual report. The interactive agency’s Detroit office has steered Web initiatives for various DaimlerChrysler brands, including Chrysler, Chrysler Financial Corp. and Dodge, since August 1999. Over the past year, some of the back-end, technology work at Organic has shifted to IBM, sources said.

Critical Mass, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, has handled Internet programs for Mercedes-Benz, including MBUSA.com, since 1996.

Under pressure to cut costs, the automaker has been evaluating its interactive advertising, technology and software vendor relationships for at least the last three months, sources said.

The Auburn Hills, Mich., client did not return calls, nor did Organic and Critical Mass officials.