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Ikea Starts Search

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"This one's a headscratcher," Deutsch chief executive Donny Deutsch said of last week's Ikea news in an internal memo to agency staffers.

After 11 years during which Deutsch established Ikea as the destination brand for hip yet functional furniture in the U.S. and Canada, the client put its estimated $40-50 million account in review.

Sources said the review came just weeks after the agency requested a "significant increase" in compensation.

Joakim Gip, Ikea's external communications manager who is running the review, denied money was an issue. "It's not that we've been unhappy … but after 11 years you get stuck in a certain way of working. We want to reach further. A review is a good way to see how to do that. Deutsch decided not to be a part of [the review]."

In Deutsch's memo, he informed the staff that the client "could not come up with a definitive reason for wanting to 'look outside the fence,' other than, 'it's time.' " Last week, Deutsch added: "We look back on our time with them fondly."

Last Monday, the same day the client told Deutsch about the review, consultancy Pile and Co., Boston, began issuing questionnaires, which are due back on Nov. 1, sources said. According to the RFP, Ikea is looking for an agency in the same time zone as its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Ikea will make a cut by Nov. 3, hold credentials meetings Nov. 16 and 17, brief finalists on Nov. 21, and hold final presentations on Dec. 20, a source said.