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ConocoPhillips Shifts to Venables Bell

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NEW YORK ConocoPhillips has awarded U.S creative duties on its Conoco and 76 gas station brands to Venables Bell & Partners after a review, confirmed Roth Associates, the consultancy that managed the search.

The San Francisco independent bested two other finalists to land the business: Omnicom Group's GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Texas, and independent David&Goliath in El Segundo, Calif., according to sources. The winner succeeds independent FKM in Houston, which retains media duties on the brands.

Future combined media spending on Conoco and 76 may reach $40 million annually, said sources. That would represent a significant rise from the recent past. Last year, combined spending on Conoco and 76 totaled more than $20 million, up from 2007's total of about $9 million, according to Nielsen. The bulk of each year's total went toward Conoco: $19 million in 2008 and more than $8 million in 2007, per Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.

The review, which began in March, was managed by the New York and Playa del Rey, Calif., offices of Roth Associates. ConocoPhillips is based in Houston.

Venables Bell's other clients include Intel, Audi, HBO and Nestea.