E.B. Lane Encounters Déjà Vu

E.B. Lane Marketing Communications has once again emerged victorious in the nearly seven-month Arizona anti-tobacco review odyssey.

The Phoenix agency had been awarded the contract in June, but following protests by crosstown shops Riester-Robb—the incumbent—and Moses Anshell, the state put the account back into review.

“Both times the decision was fair and aboveboard,” said Michael Murphy, communications director at the Arizona Dept. of Health Services. “Anytime there’s a contract of this size, there are bound to be challenges.”

The four-year advertising and PR pact, worth $10-15 million annually when E.B. Lane originally won it, is now worth $7-10 million a year. The figure was lowered when the state decided to focus more effort on grass-roots public relations.

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get this, but we did prevail,” said E.B. Lane chief executive Beau Lane. “We’re thrilled with the reaffirmation of our win, and we’re ready to get to work.”

E.B. Lane was one of three shops to respond to the second RFP. The others were Phoenix shops Moses Anshell and Cramer-Krasselt.

Despite its loud pro testations the first time around, Riester-Robb decided not to rebid the account. Agency president Tim Riester cited the shift in focus to grass-roots PR, which he said is an “ineffective tool” in the fight against tobacco. He also pointed out that the process was still being coordinated by the same two state officials who handled the last review.

“The only people who could have been happy with [the RFP] was the tobacco industry,” Rie ster said.

Although Lane laid off at least six of his shop’s 80 staffers in August, he said the agency will now add senior creatives, mid level ac count managers and PR professionals.

The shop has subcontracted with Phoenix agencies Grupo Ñ (Hispanic), Maverick Marketing (Native American) and Southwest Dimensions (African-American and Asian-American), among others.

Ads are likely to break in the first quarter of 2002.