Nextel Cuts to 6 Contenders in Chase for $150 Mil. Account

BOSTON Six agencies advanced last week in the review for Nextel Communications’ $150 million account, sources said. Still in the hunt are IPG’s Deutsch, Omnicom’s TBWA\ Chiat\Day and WPP’s J. Walter Thompson, all in New York; Publicis’ Leo Burnett in Chicago; Havas’ Arnold in Boston; and the incumbent, IPG’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., sources said. Shops that were cut included Omnicom’s DDB in New York and Publicis’ Fallon in Minneapolis, sources said. Agency executives either declined comment or could not be reached. The client declined comment. The review is being managed by Roth Associates in New York, which did not return calls.

Visa and Grey Get Closer to Inking International Deal

New York Visa International is in negotiations with Grey in London to award the agency its ad account in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa, the client said. Sources estimated the billings at 30 million euros (about $30 million). Lowe in London was the other finalist in the review, which began in October and had included AMV BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi, both in London. The latter shop was the incumbent in the Middle East and Africa and retains the business in EU countries. Tequila had handled Central and Eastern Europe for Visa. BBDO in New York handles the $250 million Visa North America account. AAR in London managed the review.

FTC to Determine If “Alcopops” Ads Target Underage Buyers

WASHINGTON Congress has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether ads for malt beverages called “alcopops” are targeting underage consumers. Lawmakers requested the study in an appropriations bill Congress passed earlier this month. Congress also urged the alcohol industry to adopt stricter ad-placement standards and “establish an independent third-party review mechanism to limit the appeal and exposure of alcohol advertising to underage consumers.” The FTC, which recommended industry self-regulation when it last reported to Congress on alcohol ads in 1999, has six months to prepare the study.

Home Depot Debuts $350 Mil. Campaign

DALLAS An estimated $350 million campaign for Home Depot that broke Sunday seeks to capitalize on the relationships between customers and the home improvement chain’s skilled sales staff. The 60-second spot shows smiling employees teaching classes and helping customers find products. It also features customers walking through areas of the store and shows a range of Home Depot’s products. A voicever defines what the Atlanta-based retailer is, with lines like, “It’s a Saturday morning well spent,” and “It’s someone who knows the answer or knows exactly where to find it.” The campaign, by The Richards Group in Dallas, introduces the tagline, “You can do it. We can help,” which replaces “Driving down the cost of home improvement.” Home Depot spent $360 million on ads through November 2002, according to CMR.

Bozell ECD Nobay to Exit, Seeks Job Abroad

New York David Nobay, Bozell’s ecd for four years, is leaving the IPG shop to take a post overseas, the agency confirmed. He delivered the news to the 60-person creative department last Wednesday, according to sources. Nobay, who will exit the New York shop April 1, is mulling an offer in Singapore and another in Sydney, Australia, sources said. His resignation comes as Bozell merges with IPG sibling Lowe. Nobay took over for former Bozell ecd Tony Granger earlier this year when Granger left to take the top creative spot at Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi in London.

H&R Block Narrows to 6 in Review for Hispanic Account

DALLAS Six agencies remain in H&R Block’s review for its Hispanic account, according to Select Resources International in West Hollywood, Calif. They are IPG’s Casanova Pendrill in Irvine, Calif.; WPP’s Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados in Aliso Viejo, Calif.; and cruz/kravetz:ideas in Culver City, Calif.; The Vidal Partnership in New York; and Zubi Advertising and Creative On Demand, both in Coral Gables, Fla. Billings are undisclosed. Incumbent Dieste Harmel & Partners, a Dallas-based shop affiliated with Omnicom, did not defend.