FCB Wins IRS Review

Foote, Cone & Belding edged out BBDO, Young & Rubicam and Grey to win the Internal Revenue Service’s advertising account.

The New York shop’s win, estimated at $80-100 million over the next five years, hinged on a finals presentation that included relevant client experience and strategic planning proposals.

No creative concepts were presented at the finals, which were held earlier this month at the government agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. Each contender, sources said, was allotted two hours to make its presentation.

Incumbent Cossette Post of New York did not participate. J. Walter Thompson in Atlanta was eliminated in an earlier round.

A request for proposal that began circulating last winter indicated that the federal agency, buffeted by critics for more than a decade, was seeking a shop that could provide an array of services. Those capabilities include traditional and interactive advertising, direct marketing as well as media planning and buying.

As a result, the contenders assembled teams from their core agencies as well as partner shops. Y&R’s pitch team, for example, included executives from Wunderman (direct), Landor Associates and Mediaedge:cia. Grey partnered with sister agency APCO, a Washington public relations firm.

The review was triggered, in part by the IRS Structuring and Reform Act of 1998, intended to make the agency user friendly and to encourage taxpayers to employ electronic filling. For the latter, a tentative goal of 80 percent has been set for 2007.