XM Satellite Eyes 4

NEW YORK XM Satellite Radio has chosen four finalists as it reviews creative chores on its estimated $50 million ad account.

Independents The Richards Group in Dallas and Wieden + Kennedy in New York, as well as Interpublic Group’s Lowe and Omnicom Group’s DDB, both in New York, have advanced.

Select Resources International, the consultancy in Santa Monica, Calif., that is managing the review, confirmed the list of four.

As many as 10 agencies were involved at the semifinal stage, but those four emerged following cuts and withdrawals last week, per sources.

Some agencies that initially received the request for proposal opted not to pursue the account, primarily because the fee is $2 million for the year, low for an account XM’s size, according to sources.

IPG’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., the creative and media incumbent, is not participating in the review [Adweek, July 20]. Mullen’s MediaHub unit will continue to handle planning and buying, which are not currently in play.

Sources said agency work sessions would take place Aug. 24-25, followed by final presentations Sept. 5-8 and a decision shortly thereafter.

Mullen last November launched an XM campaign featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Snoop Dogg, Derek Jeter, David Bowie and Martina McBride. All five showed up in one spot to showcase the number of choices that XM offers consumers across its 150-plus channels, such as music, live sports, concerts, news and talk selections. That work introduced the tagline, “Listen large.”

Last month, XM named former Sprint Nextel executive My-Chau Nguyen senior vice president of marketing, planning and research and former Intel executive Sean Connolly vice president of brand management and media.

Sources said their arrival is driving the review, along with the recent decline of XM’s share price.

XM is the No. 1 satellite radio provider, claiming 6.8 million subscribers. Sirius Satellite Radio is No. 2 with 4.7 million subscribers.