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Dozen Shops Eye Pinnacle West

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As energy shortages thrust utility companies into the spotlight, 12 West Coast agencies are vying to join the action courtesy of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

The energy and real estate development company held meetings last week with the chosen dozen at its Phoenix headquarters. The shops were selected from more than 50 that submitted credentials in a review for the creative portion of the estimated $4 million account.

A source described the meetings as "chemistry checks" and question-and-answer sessions.

Semifinalists include California shops Adlhoch Creative, DDB and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, all in Los Angeles; Bates USA West in Irvine; Clear Ink in Walnut Creek; GMO Hill/Holliday and Hoffman/Lewis, both in San Francisco; The Miller Group in Santa Monica; and Robert Chandler & Partners in Marina del Rey. Also in the running are Phoenix agencies E.B. Lane, R&R Partners and Riester-Robb.

Led by Michael Marsak, president of Effective Marketing Strategies in Marina del Rey, Calif., the review was initially expected to focus on Arizona shops.

However, one source said, "The level of new-business activity nationwide and in Southern California is very limited, which raises the attractiveness of every solid piece of business that comes along." Also appealing, the source said, is the chance to work on "juicy issues."

Young Associates in Phoenix, which had handled the account for less than two years, did not defend it [Adweek, May 21].

The agencies are stressing their relevant experience. Riester-Robb, for example, is pointing to its work on California recycling and Arizona anti-smoking, said shop president Tim Riester. The Miller Group is touting its work with GTE and the American Oceans Campaign, said agency president Renee Miller.

A cut to six is due this week, with strategy meetings in August. A decision should come in September.

Media duties are expected to remain with Media Buying Services in Phoenix.