Bridgestone Firestone in Play

NEW YORK Bridgestone Firestone has hired consultant Pile and Co. to handle a review of its broadcast creative and media planning and buying duties, sources said.

Spending for those pieces of the business is about $25 million, according to the proposal request, which was sent to agencies this week and due back in mid-May.

WPP Group’s Grey here, which has held the account since 1998, and sibling MediaCom are the incumbents and plan to defend, sources said.

Gish Sherwood, which is located near the Nashville, Tenn., client, handles print duties, which are unaffected.

The questionnaire stipulates that any agency pursuing the business must have at least 75 employees and be within two-hour flying distance of Bridgestone Firestone. A message left with a client executive was not immediately returned.

Sources said capabilities presentations would take place in late May, followed by a cut to semifinalists and tissue sessions in mid-June. The client will hear final presentations in mid-July, followed by a decision shortly thereafter.

Grey was unavailable for comment, as was Boston-based Pile.

This is the third tire account to go into review in the past six months. Goodyear awarded its estimated $40 million account in January to Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York, and this week B.F. Goodrich tapped IPG’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., to handle its $15-20 million account.

According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Bridgestone Firestone spent a total of $45 million in U.S. media in 2005 and $40 million in 2004.