Smart USA to Hear From at Least 6 Shops

NEW YORK At least six agencies have emerged in the review for DaimlerChrysler’s Smart USA account, sources said.

They are: DeVito/Verdi, Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Strawberry Frog, all in New York; Venables Bell in San Francisco; Martin/Williams in Minneapolis; and Creature in Seattle, according to sources. Omnicom Group owns M/W, the rest are independents. Undisclosed others may also be participating.

The client is said to be looking at agencies with experience in retail and launching new brands. Consultancy AAR Partners in New York circulated a blind request for proposals in October and compiled a long list of candidates for the review, but is no longer involved, sources said [Adweek, Oct. 18]. About 20 shops returned the RFP, and the client selected seven to nine semifinalists, sources said.

The agencies and the client declined comment.

Creative presentations are scheduled for the second week of December, and another cut is likely, sources said.

Plans call for hiring more than one agency, since the company will need help with not only traditional advertising but also direct marketing, customer relationship management and media planning and buying, Dave Schembri, a vice president at Smart USA has said. The Smart car will bow in the U.S. in 2006.