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MacGregor Golf Begins Review

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Equipment Maker Searches for Eighth Ad Partner in 15 Years
ATLANTA--Less than six months after Howard, Merrill & Partners broke its first television advertising for MacGregor Golf, the client has sent out a request for proposal seeking a replacement, apparently without notifying the agency.
MacGregor's recently hired marketing vice president, Jeffrey Sears, acknowledged that a search is under way. Last Friday was the deadline for returning questionnaires, he said.
Sears confirmed that the Raleigh, N.C., incumbent would not be invited to defend the account, which it has held since late 1997. He declined to elaborate about that decision.
When contacted, a representative for Howard, Merrill & Partners indicated the agency had not been informed of a review by MacGregor. Subsequent queries regarding the account were not answered by press time last week.
Sears said MacGregor is conducting a national review. Sources said agencies in Florida, Minneapolis and New York have been contacted by the Atlanta golf club manufacturer.
Sears said he was seeking an agency with a sports marketing background "and terrific creative juices . . . [which] we can be philosophically aligned with." MacGregor is "a 102-year-old company that wants to be the most admired and trusted name in golf," he added.
Sears said the shop chosen must have a strong Internet capability. "Our Web site is going to be significantly expanded, along the lines of being interactive among the consumer," he explained.
MacGregor is also planning a major TV campaign for early 2000, backed by $10-15 million in spending, said sources. The 1999 budget was $12 million, split 20-80 between cable television and print.
Sears said he expects to have a list of three to five agencies, which will pitch by mid-August. A winner is expected to be named by Sept. 1.
When a new agency is selected, it will be MacGregor Golf's eighth advertising partner since 1984. The company also has gone through a series of owners, most recently the Parkside Group, which purchased MacGregor about a year ago. That owner eliminated MacGregor's lower end products and is pushing the client's premium golf brands.
Howard, Merrill & Partners helped launch MacGregor Golf's new line of Tourney Clubs earlier this year in a series of print and TV advertising. The work, targeting duffers, carried a "Feel what you've been missing" tagline. --with Emily Fromm