4 Finalists to Pitch U.S. Army

Four agency teams will make presentations to the U.S. Army next week in its marketing services review, sources said.

Each team is led by a lead creative shop in New York. Sources identified the shops as Interpublic Group’s Draftfcb, WPP Group units Grey and Young & Rubicam and the incumbent, IPG’s McCann Erickson.

The pitches will take place throughout the week at a hotel in Charlotte, N.C., said sources. Different shops will go on different days, with Grey and Draftfcb, for example, presenting on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, according to sources. The contenders declined to comment.

The assignment includes traditional advertising, digital and direct marketing, media planning and buying, multicultural marketing, public relations, promotions and events, according to the Army’s initial request for proposals.

Sources estimated total annual revenue at $15-20 million.

The RFP identified the Army’s major recruitment challenges as the war in Afghanistan, an improved economy and “fewer influencers (parents, teachers, coaches, etc.) that are familiar with or have served in the military.” Going forward, the Army intends to keep its “Army strong” positioning and tagline, the RFP noted.

Units of McCann Worldgroup handle most of the current account, save for the multi-cultural piece, which the Army defines as ads directed at African Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Pacific Americans. Those duties currently are split among several shops, including Interpublic’s Casanova Pendrill, for Hispanic market creative duties, and IPG’s IW Group, for Asian-Pacific market duties.

McCann Erickson has been the Army’s lead creative agency since late 2005.

The shop’s contract, originally set to expire in December, may have to be extended. The next contract will begin in April and run through April 2012, with four annual options for renewal, the RFP stated.