Oilheat Group Search Down to 3

The National Oilheat Research Alliance, a coalition of 8,000 oil-heat distributors, has narrowed its agency search to three shops.

Those that have advanced are Fallon in New York, Bozell in Chicago and Ad works in Washington. The creative and media ac count is estimated at $10 million-plus.

The Arlington, Va.-based client, which was formed in January, is looking for a shop to tout the benefits of oil heat to residents of urban areas such as New York, Boston, Seattle and Milwaukee. This is the alliance’s first agency search; it has not advertised before.

“We have a significant consumer base [13 million households], and we want to make sure we hold on to that,” said John Huber, NORA president, who is managing the process. “With the changing market today, the choice of fuel may be more on the consumer’s mind than usual.”

The finalists will make strategic pitches at the end of the month, the cli ent confirmed. A decision is expected by early August.

Creating a broad effort for an industry client appeals to many shops, said Huber, who sifted through 20 agency submissions. “They are attracted to the open canvas. We’re trying to be as open-minded with the approaches they take.”

Agencies will also present media ideas. The client seeks a shop that can “get the most bang for [our] buck,” in terms of making buys in the often costly urban markets, Huber said. The first campaign for NORA is expected to debut in spring 2002, he said.