Ikea Assembles Contenders List

Ikea’s new agency must be compatible with the client’s “non-hierarchical, unconventional, simple and cost-conscious” culture, according to an RFP sent to about 20 agencies last week.

Cost issues may be especially important. Com pen sation disputes played a role in Carmichael Lynch’s decision not to de fend the business, sources said. Similar issues were a factor in Ikea’s split with its previous agency, Deutsch in New York.

Ikea and the Minneapolis incumbent agreed to part late last month, following a 10-month relationship. Sources suggested the resulting review could be very labor-intensive over a three-month period.

Ikea also seeks a shop that can “deliver brilliant, strategic creative” that is “bold, brave, clever, human and innovative,” according to the RFP sent out by Pile and Co., the Boston consultancy running the review.

New York agencies Bates, BBDO, D’Arcy Mas ius Benton & Bowles, Merk ley Newman Harty & Partners, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmet terer/Euro RSCG, Publicis and Saat – chi & Saatchi are among the 20 shops contacted by Ikea, said sources.

Arnold and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, both in Boston, as well as Wieden + Ken nedy in Portland, Ore., also received the RFP. Deutsch, despite differences with the client at the end of its stint on the business, has offered its services but will not take part in a full-blown review, sources said.

The heavy East Coast presence is in line with the Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based retailer’s preference, stated in the RFP, for an agency located in the region. Shops from other areas are not automatically ruled out, however.

The new agency will have to prove its knowledge of U.S. and Cana dian markets; the company plans to open 50 stores during the next 10 years. Ikea seeks a shop that has handled retail accounts worth $50-60 million.

In addition, the client wants an agency with ethnic marketing expertise, according to the RFP. The winning shop must also have media, interactive and direct marketing capa bilities, either in-house or through an alliance with outside agencies.

The client expects the core team that would work on the account to participate in the pitch, the RFP states. RFPs are due back Dec. 12. Contenders will be named soon after, with a decision expected in March.

—with Ann M. Mack

and Kathleen Sampey