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Audi Reviews Interactive Account

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Audi of America is ending its relationship with troubled i-shop marchFirst and is close to naming another shop to handle its interactive marketing.

Audi has told marchFirst it will finish up some work and then move in "a different direction," said Audi representative Jennifer Garber. "They have been notified that we will not be using their services after these projects are concluded."

The marchFirst unit handling Audi's interactive work, Whittman-Hart, was sold recently to Denver-based Divine Inc.

Several weeks into a review, finalists for the account have been chosen, but Garber declined to name them or the selection date.

"We will soon have a new partner, or perhaps two partners, to conduct the rest of our e-business strategy," she said.

Spending was not disclosed but is believed to be at least in the high seven figures.

MarchFirst, Chicago, recently filed for protection under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law and has been selling off holdings, including McKinney & Silver, the Raleigh, N.C., shop that Havas Advertising bought to add to its Arnold worldwide network.

McKinney handles the $50-60 million U.S. advertising account of Audi, the luxury brand of Germany's Volkswagen AG. While there has been speculation that the account was in jeopardy, sources said McKinney took pains to retain the assignment during the ownership change. Arnold has the Volkswagen of America account.