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Georgia Tourism Begins Discovery Process

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20 Metro Atlanta Ad Agencies Receive Requests for Proposals
ATLANTA--Georgia's Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism last week sent out a request for proposal to 20 metropolitan Atlanta agencies, opening up the pitch process for the first time in five years.
The $2 million account is held by Atlanta's J. Walter Thompson, which was awarded a one-year contract in 1994 and subsequently renewed without a review four times. After a maximum of four renewals, state law stipulates the account must be reviewed.
Applicants must have at least 45 employees and offer complete services, including but not limited to account management, research, planning, creative, design, production and media buying. Shops must also be located in the Atlanta metropolitan area and operated as a full-service company for at least seven years.
Direct communication with the client is forbidden. Any procedural questions must be filed in writing by noon today. Proposals are due April 2. Up to four finalists will be selected in April. Formal presentations will follow on May 17, with a winner to be named on or about May 24. The contract begins July 1.
Several agency officials expressed concern that the process was merely a de facto exercise that would lead to another JWT renewal, but GDITT senior marketing manager Gwen Kemmerick adamantly disagreed.
"People said the same thing last time, when [Atlanta's] Pringle Dixon Pringle had the account," she said. "This is not a formality. We've developed evaluation tools to find people we think [can help the state]. This is not a rubber stamp deal. Sometimes, with new blood, you see things that make you want to change."
JWT executive vice president Jeff White indicated his shop's intention to pursue the business.
Last year JWT created a major campaign intended to inform Georgians about how much the state had to offer in terms of getaway destinations. It used the pitch: "Discover the treasures of Georgia. They're just a gas tank away."
White said other ads use different messages, depending on the audience. Those efforts target out-of-state travelers, companies looking to relocate and international business.