NEW YORK Interpublic Group's Mullen is in negotiations to add media duties on InterActiveCorp's Ask.com amid a review on that brand and two others already handled by Mullen: LendingTree.com and Match.com, sources said.
The purpose of the review was to achieve efficiencies by consolidating the brands at a single shop, according to sources. Combined major media spending on the brands totaled about $180 million last year and $145 million through the first half of 2006, per TNS Media Intelligence.
Omnicom Group's OMD in San Francisco is the incumbent on Ask.com's media assignment.
OMD also contended for the business but withdrew this week, leaving Mullen's MediaHub unit as the sole contender, said sources.
Mullen's MediaHub is now in talks with New York-based IAC to add Ask.com, which spent more than $25 million in U.S. media last year and nearly $40 million through the first half of 2006, according to TNSMI.
Media spending on LendingTree exceeded $100 million last year and more than $60 million through June; Match spent $55 million last year and more than $45 million through June.
Mullen and OMD officials declined comment and the client could not immediately be reached.
Separately, IAC is in talks to move Ask.com's creative chores to MDC Partners' Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, per sources [Adweek Online, Sept. 6]. That work has since 2003 been handled by Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco, which retained the account last year after a lengthy review.
OMD's exit from the media pitch was influenced in part by Ask.com's decision to shift creative out of sister shop TBWA\C\D, said sources.
IAC's CEO is Barry Diller, who also is chairman of Expedia, a Web company that IAC spun off last year.
Expedia this week completed a review of creative and media duties on its $170 million account, selecting independent Doner in Southfield, Mich. [Adweek Online, Sept. 5]. Mullen and the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA\C\D were the other finalists. The incumbent, IPG's Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif., did not defend.