It’s Official: EarthLink Eyes 3 Shops

NEW YORK Three agencies have been named finalists in the review of creative chores on EarthLink’s $50-60 million U.S. ad account, the client has confirmed.

Advancing were Interpublic Group’s Gotham and Lowe, and Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners, all in New York.

WPP Group’s JWT, Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi and Omnicom’s DDB, all here, failed to advance.

Agency briefings are slated for next week and final presentations will take place in early March.

The consultancy overseeing the search is Pile and Co. in Boston.

The Internet services provider has used MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami to craft ads since March 2004. Agency and client agreed to end their relationship last month, sources said; no reason was provided for the split [Adweek Online, Dec. 16].

EarthLink spent more than $75 million in measured media in 2004 and $50 million through October 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Sources said EarthLink would spend in excess of $50 million this year on ads, but has not finalized a budget. “We revolve around you” has been EarthLink’s tagline.

Media buying and planning, which shifted to Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest and its sibling Halogen, both in New York, from independent Horizon Media nine months ago, are not in play, sources said.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with client confirmation of the three finalists.