$250 Cingular Race Still Undecided

ATLANTA—For the three finalists pitching the Cingular Wireless general market account—WestWayne in Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., BBDO in New York and GSD&M in Austin, Texas—the tension was shredding nerves in the giddy and dreadful roller-coaster ride the review has become. Late Friday, contenders were told that deliberation on the $250 million account would go through the weekend, two weeks past the original Oct. 7 deadline. There were continuing reports that BBDO was out of the running, and that the review process had deteriorated into a politically charged power struggle between Georgia-based Bell South and SBC in Texas. At press time, executives at the BellSouth/SBC partnership said no winner had been selected.

Pitch Dates Set for $400 Mil. BK Account

NEW YORK—The first round of pitches in Burger King’s $400 million review kicks off next week, sources said. The six contenders include incumbent Lowe Lintas & Partners, Grey Worldwide, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, all in New York, Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, and Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis. The Miami client is expected to make a cut by Halloween.

MMS Wins $50 Mil. Roche Business

LOS ANGELES—Roche Laboratories has assigned the media buying business for its Xenical fat-fighting drug and Tamiflu influenza medication to Media Marketing Solutions, the New York unit of The Media Edge, sources said. The assignment also includes direct response buying. Other finalists were Zenith Media and SFM/Media Planning, both New York. The budget is estimated at $50 million. MMS is the general-market buying incumbent for both drugs. Young & Rubicam in New York is Roche’s creative shop.

OMD Opts Out of Unilever Pitch

LOS ANGELES—Omnicom’s OMD has decided not to pursue the $700 million Unilever account and will not pitch against Interpublic’s Initiative Media and WPP’s MindShare, said Brad Simmons, Unilever vp U.S. media services. OMD declined comment. Sources said OMD decided its resources were better utilized elsewhere since it was at a competitive disadvantage. The Omnicom media network’s rivals in the Unilever pitch “are very much tied into that organization,” said one source. Initiative has twice the Unilever business that either MindShare or OMD handle and is the incumbent in the U.S. MindShare is Unilever’s media partner in markets around the world.

Account Activity

Bcom3 Group is expected to move its Green Giant and Old El Paso brands to N.W. Ayer & Partners in New York, sources said, continuing a shift of Pillsbury business from Leo Burnett to other Bcom3 shops due to the pending merger of Pillsbury parent Diageo and General Mills. … Ask Jeeves tapped Grey Worldwide in San Francisco for its estimated $45 million ad account. … Publicis in Mid America got the estimated $20 million account of PowerBar, sources said. The account, which had been at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., was handed to Publicis’ Dallas office without a review. Nestlé USA bought the Berkley, Calif.-based maker of nutritional bars earlier this year. Publicis in Dallas is a Nestlé roster shop.