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Zimmerman Eyes Buy

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Last week's victory in a joint pitch for Value City Department Stores' $50 million advertising account drove Zimmerman & Partners Advertising's proposed buyout of Cliff Freeman and Partners a step closer to a done deal.

"People said this [pitch] was a litmus test of our compatibility," said one source. "Well, we passed."

Sources said Jordan Zimmerman, chief executive officer of the $700 million Omnicom agency in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is ready to close the deal in October.

Freeman in New York was the lead agency on the closed pitch to executives of the Columbus, Ohio-based department store chain. Neal Abramson, executive vice president, presented the extensive retail capabilities of Zimmerman.

In a statement, Charles Rath, chief marketing officer for Value City, said, "I look to Cliff and his organization to help us re-energize our brand image, reassess our market position and set the course for a more impactful future marketing effort ... I've worked with Cliff Freeman and his team ... Time and again, he has proven to be an enormously creative resource for brands facing tough marketing situations."

The department store chain's units include DSW/De-signer Shoe Warehouse, Value City, Filene's Basement and Schottenstein Stores.

The accounts of the Value City and Filene's brands have been handled in-house in Columbus, Ohio, and Boston, respectively. SBC Advertising of Westerville, Ohio, has served DSW on a project basis.

Media duties are as yet undetermined, sources said.