Four agencies are in the home stretch of a review for the $12-15 million National Thoroughbred Racing Association account, according to Jerry Brown of Brown & Martin Consulting, who is coordinating the search.
BBDO South, Atlanta; D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles; Merkley Newman Harty, New York; and The Richards Group, Dallas, will make final presentations this month in Atlanta. The account involves both creative and media buying duties. The pitches will include speculative creative, media recommendations and a "strategic idea generation exercise," said Brown.
The client will meet with the four contenders next month; a decision will come two weeks later. The initial field consisted of more than 20 shops.
There is no incumbent on the account, as the association was formed earlier this month. The group is the sport's first attempt to have a national organization representing track and horse owners and breeders, as well as other industry participants. Some $12-15 million will be spent on advertising in 1998; the budget for 1999 is expected to grow to $20 million.
The winning agency will be charged with creating a national TV and print campaign aimed at increasing the sport's visibility. "Attendance [at racetracks] is off over the last few years," Brown said. "There is a lot more competition out there; other sports and more competition in wagering. This is probably the largest sport with no central network, clearinghouse or central governing body."