Five agencies are preparing for final presentations in a review of creative duties on Major League Baseball's advertising account, sources said.
The complete list of finalists could not be identified. The incumbent, Interpublic Group's McCann Erickson in New York, is not defending.
The New York-based client confirmed the search but declined to name the participants. MLB hopes to complete the process next month, a league representative said.
MLB's major media spending totaled nearly $20 million last year and $5 million in the first half of 2010, according to Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.
McCann has handled the business for eight years. Its work has used star players to promote events like the annual All-Star Game and World Series. McCann ads have also touted MLB's ties to local communities and broader causes, such as first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign to reduce childhood obesity.
MLB's broadcast work runs on networks that carry league games, including Fox, ESPN, TBS and the MLB Network. As such, the broadcast media outlets are largely pre-ordained.
MLB is seeking both traditional (TV, radio, print) and digital marketing, with the ultimate goal of driving television viewership of games, particularly the All-Star Game, playoff games and the World Series, according to a briefing document. The league also aims to raise the profile of top players.
"Driving tune-in to our game broadcasts is the top priority due to the importance of our broadcast rights to the bottom line, and, given the fact that television ratings are used as a surrogate for the overall health of the sport, that related perception can impact a wide array of business disciplines," the document noted.