Up to Four Contenders Vie for Miller’s $300 Mil. Media Biz

NEW YORK WPP’s Mindshare, Aegis’ Carat and possibly one other contender, in addition to incumbent Starcom, will vie for Miller Brewing Co.’s estimated $300 million media planning and buying account, according to sources. Miller confirmed the review and that Publicis unit Starcom will defend. The potential fourth contender handles business that could be viewed as a conflict and may withdraw or be disqualified by Miller, per sources. Roth Associates, New York, is managing the review. Contenders will meet with client this week, sources said. A decision is expected in March, although the client said an exact timetable is not set.

SanDisk Taps Grey S.F. for $30 Mil. Global Creative Account

LOS ANGELES Compact flash media leader SanDisk has tapped WPP’s Grey San Francisco for the creative portion of its global account, sources said. Independent M&C Saatchi and Publicis Seattle were the other finalists. The win comes as Grey S.F.’s managing director Betsy Sperry assumes control of Grey’s Los Angeles office, which was subsumed by S.F. last week in the wake of layoffs in New York. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SanDisk spent $10 million in measured media in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, but sources said the RFP’s $20-30 million figure anticipates expanded global markets and promotion of the company’s Sansa MP3 players.

Panasonic Names Semifinalists In $60 Mil. Marketing Review

BOSTON Six semifinalists will make capabilities presentations to Panasonic on Jan. 30-31 as part of its $60 million marketing review. The shops, which advanced last week, are independent Modernista! in Boston and five New York agencies: Havas’ Arnold, WPP’s Berlin Cameron United, Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, MDC’s Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners and Omnicom’s Merkley + Partners. The client split with the incumbent, WPP’s Grey in New York, in November. Creative, media and below-the-line duties are all in play. Pile and Co. is running the review.

Visa Debuts Spots on Winter Olympics, Retires Tagline

LOS ANGELES Visa’s tagline since 1986, “It’s everywhere you want to be,” won’t be in its new campaign, confirmed Michael Rolnick, Visa’s director of corporate relations, San Francisco, when the new spots bow during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics Feb. 10. But the “wit of the brand’s personality” won’t change, he said, hinting at the tone of the executions from Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. Rolnick said the campaign shifts the brand position from “a ‘credit card accepted by everyone’ to ‘all forms of payment, and still everywhere'” because the company’s growth since 1995 has been largely in debit and commercial cards, with only half of its $1.1 trillion volume now representing credit.

Discover Visits Shops This Week For $80 Mil. Creative

CHICAGO Executives from Discover Financial Services will visit at least seven agencies this week in a search for a shop to handle creative duties on its $80 million account, according to sources. Among the shops to be visited: IPG’s Foote Cone & Belding, WPP’s Young & Rubicam and independent Cramer-Krasselt, all Chicago; IPG shops Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.; independent RPA in Santa Monica,Calif.; and at least one undisclosed other, according to sources. The Riverwoods, Ill., company split with Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, last November. Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., is running the search.

RealNetworks Hears Finals on $35 Mil. Pitch in Coming Weeks

LOS ANGELES Seattle-based music subscription service RealNetworks has reached the closing stages in its two-month agency review, according to sources. Finalists for the estimated $35 million creative account are said to include incumbent Publicis West and IPG’s Sedgwick Rd., both in Seattle. A third contender, IPG’s Deutsch LA, opted out of the running earlier this month due to agency-client differences, sources said. Final presentations are expected within the next two weeks.