Cliff Freeman Declines to Defend Midas

NEW YORK Incumbent Cliff Freeman and Partners will not participate in a review for the creative portion of Midas’ estimated $40 million account, the agency said today.

In a statement, Pete Regan, general manager of Cliff Freeman, said, “After careful consideration we’ve concluded that meeting the client’s need for an ongoing Chicago presence is not a part of our long term plans. Further, our revenue forecasts would make the costs of a full commitment there prohibitive.” He added, “We appreciate the opportunity to work on this brand, and we wish them the best of luck.”

Client representative Bob Troyer said Cliff Freeman was among 13 agencies sent questionnaires two weeks ago. He declined to name the other shops or say where they are located. Troyer has said a desire for “new creative approaches” is driving the search [Adweek April 21]. Meetings with shops will take place in June, he added.

Troyer declined to comment on Cliff Freeman’s decision not to defend, though he did say Midas has yet to define what a “Chicago presence” might mean for the winning agency.

No consultant is involved in the search

New York independent Cliff Freeman won the Itasca, Ill., client’s account in October 2001, becoming Midas’ fifth agency since 1995.

The shop’s first campaign for the auto-service and parts chain launched in March 2002. The effort was criticized for a lifetime-guarantee spot in which an elderly woman lifts her blouse in front of two Midas workers and asks, “So, what can you do with these?” Since then, the agency’s Midas work has been primarily promotional.

The current search was also sparked by the January arrival of Midas ceo and former McDonald’s Americas president Alan Feldman. He is evaluating all aspects of Midas’ operations and has said the company is in “transition.” Midas is eliminating its auto-parts distribution business to concentrate on its 1,600-plus U.S. auto-service shops.

Cliff Freeman has teamed with Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Omnicom agency Zimmerman & Partners for several recent pitches, such as The Wiz, Value City and DSW. (The two shops, which have held merger talks, were victorious in the Value City competition).

Last week, executives with both agencies said they hadn’t decided whether to collaborate on pitching Midas. However, car accounts are considered conflicts because of auto-parts service agreements, and Zimmerman’s largest client is Nissan.

Zimmerman ceo Jordan Zimmerman said he and Freeman discussed pursuing Midas, but concluded it wasn’t the right opportunity. “We’re looking for accounts that fit both of us,” Zimmerman said. “[Midas] doesn’t, so why pursue it?” Cliff Freeman executives did not comment beyond Regan’s statement.

Midas’ media schedule this year is limited to radio and national TV promotions. Carat in New York handles media, which is not included in the review.

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