21st Century Eyes Sedgwick Rd.

LOS ANGELES After ending its relationship with The Richards Group earlier this month following just two meetings, 21st Century Insurance is in final negotiations to name Interpublic Group’s Sedgwick Rd. as its new lead agency, according to sources.

Bruce Marlow, 21st Century’s president and CEO since 2000 as well as vice chairman of the board of directors, met with numerous agencies, hired at least one for project work and entertained pitches for the $25 million account numerous times in the last two years. Sedgwick Rd. in Seattle declined comment; the client’s Woodland Hills, Calif., office was closed Friday afternoon.

Sources said reviews pitting prospective local agencies against one another for assignments were being conducted even while the client was still formally aligned with Interpublic Group’s Dailey & Associates, which had created a campaign based on accidents in famous movies such as Speed and The French Connection. The relationship lasted less than a year.

Sources said that Dentsu’s Colby & Partners, Santa Monica, Calif., was among the agencies that produced work for the client during this period. Colby executives declined comment. Dentsu’s DCA has handled media, which has not been in review.

21st Century conducted a formal review facilitated by search consultancy Select Resources International that ended in May with The Richards Group, Dallas, emerging as the winner among undisclosed agencies. Less than a month later [Adweek Online, June 7], Richards Group principal and creative director Stan Richards parted with the client, citing “creative differences.”

21st Century spent $25 million advertising in 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.