DaimlerChrysler Mulling Presentations

DETROIT—DaimlerChrysler said it will decide by the end of the year where to place its $1.5 billion consolidated creative and media account after hearing presentations last week. Sources expect a decision from the Detroit-based automaker in 4-6 weeks. True North Communications in Chicago, including Jeep and Chrysler incumbent FCB Worldwide in Southfield, Mich., presented Oct. 6. Omnicom Group agencies, including Dodge incumbent BBDO Worldwide and DaimlerChrysler media buying agency Pentacom, both in Troy, Mich., presented Oct. 5. The automaker has said it is consolidating its account to save money.

N.W. Ayer to Leave Detroit

DETROIT—N.W. Ayer & Partners will close its Detroit office by the end of the year after losing the $30 million General Motors corporate assignment after 28 years. GM moved the business without a review to its Buick shop, McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., which handled several corporatewide initiatives over the past few years. Speculation swirled following GM’s announcement that the loss could be a fatal blow to not just Ayer Detroit, but the whole agency. Parent company Bcom3 released a statement from CEO Roger Haupt that said the holding company “remains committed to Ayer and to leveraging the talents and strengths of its people, who have a proven track record of creating some of America’s most famous and enduring brands.”

Ogilvy Faces Allegations of Improper Billing

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The president of Ogilvy & Mather in New York, Bill Gray, issued a statement last week responding to allegations of improperly billing the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for an antidrug campaign. “We have charged ONDCP within the industry standard, and if we learn of any accounting problems, we will address them and make any necessary adjustments,” the statement read. The U.S. General Accounting Office is conducting a review and audit of ONDCP’s contracting operations based on an anonymous tip that the shop overbilled the ONDCP. Dan Maple, senior policy analyst assigned to the media campaign for ONDCP, said the office supported the agency. “We have full confidence in Ogilvy,” he said. “We don’t believe that there’s any fraud or deliberate improper billing involved.” The government is withholding payment until the audit is complete. The campaign is part of a five-year, $1 billion effort to stop kids from using drugs, which began in 1998.

Lawner, Kelly Rise at Arnold Communications

BOSTON—Ron Lawner and Fran Kelly this week will be named chairman and president, respectively, of Arnold Communications, sources said. An agency representative declined comment, though top-level moves had been expected in the wake of Arnold’s acquisition by French company Havas Advertising. Lawner, who has headed up the creative department, and chief marketing officer Kelly, the agency’s new-business czar, have been two of the main architects of Boston-based Arnold’s rise to national prominence through the 1990s. Arnold chief executive Ed Eskandarian will focus on growing Arnold Worldwide Partners as that organization’s chairman and CEO.