FCB, JWT Square Off for ONDCP

WASHINGTON, D.C. In a sign of how wary Madison Avenue has become of the scandal and politics surrounding the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, only two shops—Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding and WPP Group’s J. Walter Thompson—will make oral presentations this week in the review for the ONDCP’s ad account, sources said.

A handful of shops were present at a pre-proposal conference held last month. In addition to New York-based FCB and JWT, Vital Marketing, an agency specializing in youth and ethnic audiences, and the WPP’s 141, an Ogilvy & Mather affiliate that specializes in relationship marketing, were also present at the conference.

Neither Vital nor 141 are qualified to pitch the account on their own because they are not on the U.S. General Services Administration’s schedule of approved vendors. Each would have to partner with approved shops.

The client is requiring shops to have GSA approval to ensure their accounting systems are certified to handle complex government work.

ONDCP has asked for oral presentations that bring its “request for quote,” issued by the government July 2, “to life,” sources said. Agencies must outline their processes for handling the account, their understanding of the assignment, and their staffing and media capabilities. The account is now worth about $130 million.

After the presentations, to be held this week in Parkersburg, W. Va., there will be discussions about compensation, sources said. A winner will be disclosed in early September.

ONDCP representative Tom Riley declined to comment on the bidding process.

The client last fall said it would not renew Ogilvy’s contract, which expires on Sept. 30. Ogilvy paid $1.8 million to settle civil charges that it over-billed the government. Two former Ogilvy employees have been indicted on charges that they committed fraud while working on the account.