A funny thing happened on the way to final presentations in OppenheimerFunds' creative review: the pitches were called off, according to sources.
Why? Because three weeks ago Oppenheimer executives saw something they liked in one of the contenders, MRM, and wanted to hire the agency straight-away, sources said. Since then, the Interpublic Group shop has been in talks with Oppenheimer to handle the account, which is backed by annual media spending of about $20 million, according to sources.
The other contenders, meanwhile, have been cooling their heels. Sources identified the other finalists as Mullen and Wieden + Kennedy.
The winner will succeed Havas Worldwide in New York, which did not defend. Ark Advisors in New York is managing the search.
While unusual, the short-circuiting of a review just before finals saves other contenders the time and expense of pitching, though, of course, the agencies have already spent money on the process. Also, why put other shops through the paces if you've already found what you're looking for? In that context, such a move seems refreshingly honest.
MRM, a unit of McCann Worldgroup, referred calls to to the New York-based Oppenheimer, which declined to comment. But sources expect the process to be completed soon.
Not include in the review are media and public relations responsibilities, which remain at Havas Media and Prosek Partners, respectively.