CarsDirect Moves Account to K&S

Incumbent Think: “Caught In the Middle’ of Management Changes
LOS ANGELES-After installing a new management team last month, has selected a pair of new agency partners.
The Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Net car-buying service has tapped Kalis & Savage, Pacific Palisades, Calif., for creative duties without a review, said sources. The shop handled ad duties for another Idealab company, eToys, until that account moved to Publicis & Hal Riney earlier in 1999.
Omnicom-owned Think New Ideas’ office in Los Angeles has handled creative, as well as print and outdoor media buying duties, since the summer [Adweek, June 28].
At the same time, broadcast-media buying is being shifted from another Omnicom-owned company, Creative Media in New York, to KSL Media’s Los Angeles office, said sources. KSL handles media buying for some of K&S’s other clients. So far, K&S, an independently owned agency, only has a 90-day contract with CarsDirect, said sources.
Spending for CarsDirect has been in the $20 million range, but a company representative said that as it expands nationwide, projected spending may reach $60 million. The representative said that within a year, the company expects to reach that size.
Recently, being unhappy with CarsDirect management’s direction, Idealab chairman Bill Gross named Robert Brisco, former president of Universal Studios Hollywood, CEO, replacing CarsDirect founder Scott Painter, who became vice chairman. In addition, the company named Donna Miller as its new marketing director.
“We just got caught in the middle,” said Larry Kopald, president and CEO of Think’s Los Angeles office. K&S and KSL declined comment. The client and Creative Media could not be reached.
Last month, Think launched CarsDirect’s first national campaign. The TV work touted CarsDirect as “America’s No. 1 way to buy cars online,” and featured the voiceover of actress Linda Hunt.
Sources said CarsDirect will launch its IPO next month.