Heavy truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp. here has identified three finalists for its $6-7 million advertising account, including one agency headquartered in the Southeast.
The contenders are Arnold Communications of Boston, Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis and Howard, Merrell & Partners in Raleigh, N.C., according to Andy Opila, the client's vice president of branding. That trio made the cut from an initial list of eight shops.
The client hopes to make a final decision by the beginning of April, Opila said.
Selection will be based on the agency's proven ability to provide strategic development, account planning and integrated marketing services for its clients, he said. The client is not requesting creative presentations from the finalists.
Opila said Howard, Merrell Partners was also a finalist in the 1997 search that saw the business awarded to Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago. Navistar parted ways with O&M last month, with the client saying it was looking for "increased staffing and a more strategic partnership."
Navistar's efforts to find a new agency are undeterred by reports that the company is an acquisition target of Volvo AB of Sweden.
"As far as we're concerned, [the possible acquisition by Volvo] is just a rumor," said Navistar representative Roy Wiley.
Officials at Volvo Trucks North America agency Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis said they have not heard from the Greensboro, N.C.-based company about a possible merger, but have offered their services for any resulting advertising assignments.
Both Navistar and Volvo Trucks undertook high-profile advertising campaigns last year. Navistar broke its first national effort in 12 years via O&M's "Delivering. Beyond the expected" series.