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Scooter Company Contacts N.Y. Shops

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BOSTON Segway has contacted at least a dozen agencies, mostly in New York and New England, about handling marketing chores currently handled in-house.

The company in Bedford, N.H., does not have a lead agency and has done little marketing of its high-tech, two-wheeled scooters in recent years. Paid media spending was $150,000 last year, and there has been no meaningful outlay in 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

"We have worked with a number of different agencies in the past," a company representative said on Friday. "We are finalizing marketing plans for 2006, so the timing of our search aligns with that activity. We expect to have an agency on board sometime in January.

"We are handling the search without outside consultants," the rep said. "We're planning a range of marcom activities, not focused specifically on advertising."

Sources said the client has contacted at least a dozen small and midsize agencies, located mainly in New England and New York. Agencies with experience building brands via the Internet and direct marketing are preferred, though Segway has not ruled out a mainstream media push (likely targeting businesses) sometime next year, sources said.

Billings were not disclosed, but one source pegged the budget at $500,000-1 million.

The review is being driven at least in part by the arrival in March of James Norrod as CEO (the fourth in as many years), who is trying to ramp up marketing to increase sales, sources said. Since his arrival, the company has said it would focus on national high-volume buyers such as Disney, the U.S. military and local police departments.

The privately held company does not release sales figures.