Child’s Play: $90 Mil.

Agencies in California and beyond are lining up in a review for the California Children & Families Commission ad account, worth $90 million in billings split evenly over three years. The contract runs from Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2003.

Hoping to lure a diverse group of candidates, including out-of-state shops, the commission has streamlined the review process and is giving contenders a juicy challenge: to set a model for pro-children public education ad campaigns around the country.

Asher/Gal & Partners in Los Angeles has done project work for the commission in the past year, as has Sacramento, Calif., agency Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn. A decision in the review is due Dec. 15.

“We altered the process from what agencies would have seen in the past from California,” said Kristina Parham, client director of communications and a member of the eight-person selection committee. The request for proposals, for example, is a relatively slim 41 pages.

Eligibility requirements have also changed. A full-service California office is required, but contenders can be based elsewhere and can partner with eligible firms. All participants must have an average of $20 million in gross billings from 1998-2000.

The commission was mandated by 1998’s Proposition 10, the Golden State initiative sponsored by Rob Reiner that adds a 50-cent tax on cigarettes to fund public education on the health of California’s younger children. The tax generates about $700 million a year.

Although Reiner will not be involved in the selection of the agency, he will be involved in advertising decisions, Parham said. Gregg Deguire / LFI