Hotels.com Picks Finalists

NEW YORK Hotels.com has selected three finalists to pitch creative duties on its ad account and another three finalists in a parallel pitch for media chores, sources said.

Sources identified the creative contenders as WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam in Chicago, Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day here, and the media contenders as independents Horizon Media and TargetCast, both in New York, and Publicis Groupe’s Optimedia in Seattle.

Client executives will brief the media shops today and the creative shops tomorrow, sources said. Each trio emerged from a field of six agencies that Hotels.com execs had visited.

Final creative pitches are slated for Nov. 8-9 at the agencies, and media pitches are scheduled for Oct. 18-19 at the client’s headquarters in Dallas, according to sources.

Hotels.com spent more than $60 million in major measured media last year and nearly $45 million in the first seven months of 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The status of incumbent Doner was unclear. The Southfield, Mich., independent, which did not immediately return calls, has handled the Hotels.com business since 2004.

Ark Advisors, the New York consultancy managing the parallel searches, did not return calls and the shops either declined comment or could not be reached. The client also could not immediately be reached.