Lord, Dentsu, which was slated to handle Mazda's Amati launch out of its L.A. office until that effort was aborted late last year, received a questionnaire for Audi of America last week but declined to participate.
Agency chairman Dick Lord, who had previously stated some enthusiasm for going after the business, said, "We decided that it wasn't quite the right opportunity for us, but I'm sure there will be others."
Jones-Lundin, Chicago, which is handling the review, sent queries out to shops in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and one in the Southeast.
West coast and Texas auto agency wannabes like Stein Robaire Helm/L.A., Goldberg Moser O'Neill/S.F. and The Richards Group/Dallas were left looking at empty mailboxes.
"We want to choose an agency in the same time zone as we are, or just a one-hour difference," said an Audi spokesperson.
Among the early official contenders are Ammirati & Puris, Bloom/FCA, Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, and Cliff Freeman & Partners, all of New York; Fallon McElligott, Carmichael Lynch and Martin Williams Advertising, of Minneapolis; and Earle Palmer Brown, Bethesda, Md. Audi's U.K. agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty/London, has also been contacted, but the shop may not want to open a U.S. office.
Incumbent DDB Needham, Chicago was told three weeks ago that it would not be competing to keep the account.
Lord, Dentsu's reaction came as a surprise, particularly since the shop has been staffed to accommodate an auto account since mid-1992.
One industry executive close to one of LD&P's owners, Japanese agency Dentsu (Young & Rubicam owns the other half), speculated that Dentsu would prefer to keep LD&P in reserve to go after a larger car account in the U.S. when the opportunity arises. LD&P also declined to pitch BMW last fall.
The questionnaire, which agency execs said was only a few pages, is due back this week.
Finalists will be selected by early-to-mid-May, with presentations scheduled for late June, and a decision on a new shop to come either in late June, or early July.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)