EarthLink last week met with the agencies vying for its $40-50 million creative and media account, the client confirmed.
A representative for the Internet service provider declined to name contenders, but sources said they are incumbent TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif.; New York agencies Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles; Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami and Los Angeles; Leo Burnett in Chicago; McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C.; and Wieden + Ken nedy in Portland, Ore.
Shops were briefed and given a creative assignment. Each agency was asked to develop at least two campaigns, sources said.
Pitches are set for Feb. 19-20 in Atlanta. A decision is due by March 1.
EarthLink sent RFPs to 10-12 shops this month. In addition to the seven in contention, others receiving the RFP included dRush and Fallon in New York; Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago; Arnold in Boston; and the team of BaylessCronin in Atlanta and Merkley Newman Harty & Partners in New York, sources said.
"There's a little bit of vendor mentality here—'Let's get as many [contenders] as we can,' " said a source, noting that client evp of marketing Karen Gough worked on promotions at Coca-Cola North America.
The account has been handled by TBWA\C\D for 18 months. The review follows EarthLink's merger with MindSpring last year and a number of changes within EarthLink's marketing department, including the addition of Gough and the departure of vp of brand marketing Claudia Caplan.