Finalists Emerge for Mondavi

Two California shops and two Texas agencies remain in the review for wine maker Robert Mondavi’s $15 million account, sources said.

Venables, Bell & Partners in San Francisco and Deutsch/LA in Mar ina del Rey, Calif., are still in the hunt, along with Austin, Texas-based GSD&M and The Richards Group in Dallas. The account includes creative and media and is expected to focus primarily on the Oakville, Calif-based client’s top-selling Woodbridge line of wines.

Incumbent Dailey & Associates has been the vintner’s agency for four years. The shop’s president Brian Morris previously had said the agency would successfully defend the account, but it remains unclear if the West Hollywood, Calif., shop is still in the running.

The finalists, which had been culled from a list of at least six shops, were given a creative as signment this past Wednesday. A decision is expected by the end of April.

Sources said the decision to put the account in review came from Mondavi’s vp of marketing, Dennis Joyce [Adweek, March 4], who joined the company last year. New York-based consultancy Roth Associates is handling the review, sources said.

Neither the client nor the consultancy could be reached for comment.

Dailey’s advertising has pri marily focused on Mondavi’s Woodbridge line, which includes both red and white wines. The winery spent about $10 million in 2001 to promote that brand, according to CMR.

Woodbridge wines retail for about $9 a bottle and account for approximately half of Mondavi’s sales volume. The client’s other brands include Arrowood, Opus One, Seña and Vichon.

Richards or GSD&M could become the second Texas shop to land a California wine account in the past month. The Integer Group in Dallas recently won Beringer Blass Wine Estates’ creative account, following a six-month review that included more than 20 agencies. Integer’s victory marked the first time the Napa Valley-based client had consolidated all its premium labels at a single agency.

The wild card in the review is Venables, Bell, a relatively new California shop established by ex-staff members of Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.