Heineken USA last week selected three finalists in the review for its $30 million ad account.
The remaining shops are: New York agencies Lowe & Partners/SMS, McCann-Erickson and Ogilvy & Mather, sources said.
Cut from contention last week were: Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Saatchi & Saatchi and J. Walter Thompson, all in New York. Bates was dropped earlier.
The review has not been without controversy. Early on, some contenders characterized Michael Silver’s presence in meetings between agencies and the prospective client as “odd.” Silver is the top account manager on Heineken at incumbent Wells BDDP, which is closing in May. The winning agency is expected to hire Silver. “It’s not that unusual for a client to want someone who has worked on the account before, but it is unusual for that person to have an active role in the review process,” said one agency executive.
Later, some eyebrows were raised when shops received a briefing document from Heineken that included Lowe’s Mercedes campaign as an example of what it is seeking. “There are similar issues in that it’s a premium brand that had an older image,” said one executive. That, plus the fact that Silver worked with Lowe chief Marvin Sloves at Scali, McCabe, Sloves, has led many to believe Lowe is the favorite. Silver and Steve Davis, Heineken’s vice president of marketing, could not be reached.
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