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ISP Shops Around

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Operating under an accelerated time frame, EarthLink kicked off the review for its $40-50 million creative and media account last week.

The Internet-service provider sent RFPs to 10-12 shops, with responses due by Jan. 14, confirmed Terry Montoya, client vp of marketing communications. She declined to name the shops under consideration.

In addition to incumbent, TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., sources said agencies receiving the RFP included the team of BaylessCronin in Atlanta and Merkley Newman Harty & Partners in New York; New York shops Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and dRush; Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago; Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore.; and Arnold in Boston.

TBWA\C\D is participating, a representative said. Representatives for the other shops either declined comment or could not be reached.

The agencies have been asked to provide client lists, information on core competencies and staffing, and case studies, Montoya said.

"We're looking for a full-service, integrated agency to help us differentiate our brand to consumers," Montoya said.

The RFP stipulates that shops with creative and media capabilities can pitch both pieces of the business, while shops that normally outsource media can only pitch creative, sources said. In addition to eliminating shops that handle ISPs, other clients EarthLink identified as potential conflicts include those in the telephone, wireless and cable categories, sources said.

Five finalists are expected to be selected by Jan. 22. Those shops will be invited to Atlanta for a business briefing and creative assignment. Presentations will be held in mid-February, with a decision by March 1.