DDB Threatens to File Second Lottery Protest

A dispute over media cost per rating point may be the reason the California Lottery could redo its agency review for a second time this year, sources said. Losing bidder DDB in Los Angeles last week filed an intent to protest the lottery’s decision to award the account to Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco.

FCB was named the winning bidder of the five-year, $125 million account on July 31, pending approval from the lottery commission on Aug. 16 [Ad week, Aug. 5]. The agency pitched with Interpublic Group sibling Initiative Media North America, Los Angeles.

DDB, an Omnicom shop, has until this Wednesday to formally protest. The agency was not re quired to list a reason in the letter of intent that it sent to the lottery, but will have to do so should it file a formal protest. Rick Carpenter, president of DDB in Los Angeles, declined comment.

FCB’s cost per point score was the worst in the first lottery review but the best in the do-over. Out of a possible 20 points this time, FCB scored 20, DDB and incumbent Grey in Los Angeles each had 6, and McCann-Erickson in Los Angeles had 0. Overall, FCB scored 94 out of a possible 100 points, while DDB had 71, Grey had 69, and McCann had 62.

“Revisions were made in the language, revisions were made in targeted rating points [in the second RFP],” said contract administrator Rose Marie Laplante-Olvera. An agency executive added that the two reviews had “significantly different” media specs.

DDB appeared to have won the business in January. Following a protest by Grey, DDB’s award was canceled—a first for the lottery, said Laplante-Olvera. The lottery extended its contract with Grey through November, and a new RFP was issued.

Ian Beavis, president of FCB in San Francisco, said the potential for yet another protest is “not surprising” based on the review’s track record. But he added: “When the process is as rigorous as this, you have to say, ‘These people are doing a good job running this review,’ and move on.”