Big Easy Tourism in Final Round

The New Or-leans Tourism Marketing Corp. has selected three finalists in the review for its nearly $4 million advertising account.

Two New Orleans agencies, incumbent Montgomery Stire & Partners and Peter A. Mayer Advertising, are competing against The Graham Group of Lafayette, La., for the three-year contract. A one-year option is included. MS&P has held a firm grip on the account since 1988.

The tourism group mailed requests for proposals last month, soliciting inquiries from more than a dozen shops. Basic criteria included billings of at least $7 million; a full-service office in New Orleans; and experience in the creation, production and placement of all media forms, including direct marketing and online.

At the end of September, the list was narrowed to five shops. Each agency hosted a visit from the review committee of five tourism board members, plus two representatives from Wanamaker, an Atlanta consultancy that guided the selection process in 1996.

During the visits, the agencies presented tourism case histories. Logan Marketing and Zehnder Communications, both New Orleans, did not make the cut.

The three finalists will get a strategic assignment this week. Presentations are scheduled for Nov. 17; a decision is expected by the end of November.

“Every four years, this account has come up for review and we’ve won it,” said Frank Stire, principal at MS&P. Next month the shop launches the board’s new ads featuring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.