Mullen in Pursuit of JRAP

Mullen, mired in a year-long new-business slump that continued last week when it failed to beat out smaller competitors for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has emerged as a contender for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Recruiting Advertising Program [JRAP].

The Wenham, Mass., agency is pitching JRAP against incumbent Bates, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Foote, Cone & Belding, all of New York, and J. Walter Thompson in Atlanta, sources said.

Annual JRAP spending is $15-20 million, or more than $70 million over the life of the five-year contract. Bates has worked with the client for 10 years.

Chicago consulting firm Jones Lundin Beals is overseeing the competition, which is slated to finish up in October. The client did not return calls and Jones Lundin declined to comment on the process.

The cut to five shops came last week, when as many as a dozen agencies were eliminated, including Arnold’s outpost in McLean, Va., according to sources.

Mullen’s involvement comes as something of a surprise, as the Interpublic Group agency has traditionally avoided government accounts. Mullen representative Brooke Smith declined to discuss JRAP, but sources said agency CEO Joe Grimaldi and chief creative Edward Boches have made winning the account a top priority. Mullen has had few wins of note this year.

Allen & Gerritsen, Watertown, Mass., upstaged Mullen and Holland Mark, Boston, for the $1-2 million Beth Israel account.