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Decision Nears on Ogilvy, ONDCP

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The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy will make a decision this week on whether lead agency Ogilvy & Mather will be replaced, sources said.

Sources also said there is a "way above fifty-fifty" chance that the account will be rebid. A new RFP has been written and must be issued the first week in September.

ONDCP has quietly been talking to shops to determine if other shops are capable of managing its 5-year, $1 billion anti-drug account. In anticipation of a review, interested shops have submitted reels and case histories of other social-service campaigns to ONDCP.

The controversy about Ogilvy's billing practices, now the subject of a Department of Justice investigation, prompted the Partnership for a Drug-Free America to send a letter last week to its board of directors and its creative-review board of agency execs who approve all creative on the ONDCP campaign. The letter expressed the concern that the scandal would overshadow the work's
effectiveness.

ONDCP has paid about $20 million to shops that contribute work, such as Merkley Newman Harty & Partners and J. Walter Thompson. Since Ogil vy's billing problems surfaced, some shops have been frustrated when payments are delayed due to ONDCP's higher scrutiny.

"Congress wants to see this campaign succeed, and so do we," partnership pres ident Rich ard Bonnette said in the letter. "We expect the campaign will remain on track, producing positive results."

Stephen Dnistrian, a partnership rep, said, "We want agencies in the ad community to know the campaign is moving forward."

Ogilvy and parent WPP Group did not return calls by press time.