Zoo Chase Is Rare Breed For Shops

Opened in 1916 with a handful of Central American animals, the Zoological Society of San Diego has since become one of Southern California’s icons—and now is the subject of one of SoCal’s most closely watched agency reviews.

One reason: the review’s rarity. MeadsDurket in San Diego, originally Phillips Ramsey (owned by Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun before an ownership buyback last February) has held the business for all but 18 months—it lost an ’89 review—since 1965. The incumbent is contending for the creative business along with a list narrowed earlier this month to independents M&C Saatchi in Santa Monica, Calif.; davidandgoliath in Los Angeles; and Cramer-Krasselt in Phoenix. Media is split between MeadsDurket and in-house.

Sources said the client is looking to bring in more worldwide visitors. MeadsDurket in June broke an effort tagged, “One of the world’s natural wonders,” which featured closeups of animals.

Select Resources International in June sent information requests to SoCal agencies with more than $25 million in annual billings, calling for shops with strong retail and Hispanic capabilities, among others. A decision is set for October’s end.

Sources estimated ad spending at $5-8 million for 2005; Nielsen Monitor-Plus recorded spending at $2 million for 2003. By comparison, Busch Entertainment’s SeaWorld in San Diego spent $30 million on advertising in 2003, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“[The zoo is] in one of the most expensive media markets in the country,” a source said. “They simply have to do more with less.”