Baskin-Robbins USA has put its estimated $18 million account in review.
The Glendale, Calif.-based ice cream store chain will invite a select group of national agencies that have offices in California to participate in the review, said company officials.
Incumbent D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Los Angeles, which has handled the account since 1993, has elected not to defend the business.
Baskin-Robbins executives said the review was called because of anticipated changes in the company's marketing strategy.
"DMB&B has made numerous contributions to our business and their advertising support has contributed significantly to Baskin-Robbins' steady sales growth over the past four years," said Don Skeoch, vice president of marketing and concept leader. "The agency review is a result of operational and strategic changes including a sharpened focus on regional and local marketing and strategic retailing."
DMB&B executives could not be reached for comment at press time.
Baskin-Robbins spent nearly $16 million on advertising in 1996, and about $9 million during the first half of this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The company has formed a short list of undisclosed shops. A committee of representatives from the marketing group of its parent, Allied Domecq Retailing USA, plus key Baskin-Robbins executives and representatives of the company's franchisee leadership council will select the new agency.
A decision is set for November. --with Teresa Buyikian