Crane & Co., best known for supplying currency paper to the U.S. government, is looking for an agency to handle direct marketing and collateral assignments, sources said.
The Dalton, Mass., client is conducting its search through Agencyfinder.com, an on-line service that helps match clients and agencies, sources said.
Crane official Diane Pero, who is said to be overseeing the search, declined to discuss details, though she did not deny being in the market for a shop.
Pero said that "from time to time" Crane solicits agencies for "projects," but she stressed that the company is not searching for an agency-of-record relationship.
The account now in play includes direct marketing and collateral assignments targeting potential customers in various business segments, sources said. Crane is looking for an agency to help it better compete against competitors such as Champion International Paper and Weyerhaeuser.
The budget is estimated at $500,000; media advertising and consumer chores are not included, sources said.
The client has fashioned a list of about a half-dozen qualified shops, mainly small and midsized regional players, sources said.
It is unclear whether agencies have met with the client or whether the process is still in the preliminary stages.
One agency executive, speaking on terms of anonymity, declined to proceed in the review process because Agencyfinder.com required a fee approaching $5,000. Charles Meyst, chairman and chief executive officer of Business Partnering International, the Richmond, Va., parent of Agencyfinder.com, did not return calls by press time.
Literature from Agencyfinder.com says the company "is sponsored by our certified agencies . . . to make their investment pay off" but does not detail specific fees. Its search services are described as being "free to qualified clients."
Grey Advertising in New York, which picked up Crane's estimated $1-2 million consumer account in 1997, is not believed to be involved in the current competition.
About a year ago, Grey fashioned a consumer magazine push for the client using its longtime tagline, "Taking your words seriously since 1801." Grey officials did not return calls by press time.