Valvoline is considering about a half dozen contenders in the review for its $20-25 million ad account, sources said.
Martin Kish, Valvoline's vice president of communications, declined to name contenders. Sources said the list includes Cramer-Krasselt and Lois/EJL, both in Chicago, and Saatchi & Saatchi in New York.
"There will be one more cut, then a decision," said Kish.
Client executives will visit shops before making that cut, and presentations will be held before the decision, Kish added. The company hopes to select a winner by mid-March.
Valvoline, a unit of Ashland in Lexington, Ky., requires the prevailing agency to handle all media and creative duties for the motor oil brand.
The incumbent, Bozell Worldwide in New York, declined to participate in the review, which is being conducted by a consultancy, Jones-Lundin Associates in Chicago. Bozell had handled advertising for the brand since 1984 and created the "Most Admired cars" and "People Who Know Use Valvoline" campaigns. Differences over account management and creative issues led to the split [Adweek, Nov. 24].
Bozell is now one of two finalists in the quest for the estimated $20 million image account of Quaker State; the other is Leagas Delaney of San Francisco. A decision from that motor oil marketer is expected next month.
Valvoline is the third-ranked oil brand, with a 14.2 percent market share, according to NPD Automotive. It trails Quaker State with 14.4 percent and market leader Pennzoil, with 21 percent.
Ashland spent nearly $20 million advertising Valvoline between January and October 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.