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Volvo to Meet With Hopefuls

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NEW YORK At least seven contenders have reached the semifinal round of the estimated $150 million Volvo creative review, sources said.

They are: Havas' Euro RSCG and its sibling Arnold; Publicis Groupe's Fallon; WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather; independents M&C Saatchi and StrawberryFrog; and Omnicom Group's 180, according to sources.

JWT, which made the cut, has opted not to participate owing to its relationship with Ford, per sources.

It was not immediately clear what global partners, if any, the smaller shops would engage to help service the global assignment.

Volvo executives in Sweden and the U.S. are scheduled to begin chemistry checks next week, visiting each of the shops before choosing finalists, sources said. Final pitches will take place in March.

Roth Associates in New York is managing the process but consultants there were unavailable. Executives at the agencies either declined comment or referred calls to the client, which also declined comment.

Euro RSCG has worked on the account since 1991, handling Volvo in the U.S. and elsewhere, though the automaker does work with several other agencies on various assignments.

Internal disagreement among Volvo executives over creative direction is in large part driving the review [Adweek Online, Dec. 14].

Volvo is among the few major Ford brands not handled in the U.S. by WPP agencies. The other two are Jaguar, which is handled by Euro RSCG, and Mazda, which is handled by independent Doner in Southfield, Mich.

Roth, in partnership with Agency Assessments International in London, managed Ford's last big creative review, for Jaguar.

Euro RSCG won the estimated $100 million global Jaguar account in March 2005, besting five other contenders: WPP shops JWT and Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners and independents M&C Saatchi and Leagas Delaney. The incumbent, WPP's Young & Rubicam, had partnered with Berlin Cameron but was cut before the final round.

—with Andrew McMains

This story revises and updates an item posted Jan. 9, noting JWT's exit and M.C. Saatchi's participation in the process.