The client, which began the review by insisting on kids marketing experience, then extended special invitations to creative boutiques without that background, has now eliminated those hot shops from the final rounds.
The other finalists are Young & Rubicam/S.F.; Lord, Dentsu & Partners/L.A.; and McCann-Erickson, where the S.F., L.A. and Seattle offices are pitching jointly.
Eliminated from the review were Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.; DDB Needham and Robert Elen & Associates, both of L.A.; Citron Haligman Bedecarre, Hoffman/Lewis and Mandelbaum Mooney Ashley, all of S.F.; and Hajjar/Kaufman, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Sega launched the review with a stated list of criteria that included as mandatory prior experience advertising to the 4-10-year-old market. The client threw out that requirement at the first cut, selecting, along with experienced shops, a group of agencies with little background in the kids market, apparently on the strength of their creative reputations alone. Some shops that thought they didn't have a shot and passed on completing questionnaires got calls inviting them to participate after the deadline for returning questionnaires had passed.
Some think the turnabout may have come when Roberta Jacobs, vp of Sega's toy division, joined the search team. Company president Tom Kalinske launched the review, and Jacobs arrived after the deadline for returning questionnaires. But that doesn't explain the second reversal . . . or the current status. Finalists include shops both with and without kids market experience, but with the exception of the incumbent, none has a national reputation for breakthrough creative.
By the time meetings with semi-finalists began, the search trio Jacobs, along with Andrew Neff, associate director for toys, and consultant Renee White Fraser, president of Fraser and Associates/L.A. - seemed to be focusing on creative. Indeed, one hapless agency executive was halfway through a capabilities presentation when he was cut short. Jacobs said it was all very interesting, but they just wanted to see the work.
Fraser would only say that the 'four agencies were selected on merit of creative product and account planning capabilities.' Goodby and Y&R have British-style account planning; Lord, Dentsu and McCann don't.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)