BMW Narrows The Search for the New Ultimate Ad Agency.

David Kiley

BMW of North America today narrowed it's search for a new ad agency to GSD&M of Austin, Kirschenbaum & Bond and Anomaly of New York, and The Martin Agency of Richmond, VA.

It's an interesting group, and a blow to some heavy hitters who didn't get asked to the next round of final pitches. Eliminated were Publicis, NY, Red Cell and Wieden & Kennedy. I admit that I thought Wieden & Kennedy was a lock to go to the finals. Why wouldn't BMW want Nike's agency pitching in the finals? And Publicis, which handles media buying for BMW, as well as dealer work, had a leg up in that they are doing some national work on an interim basis.

Fallon McElligott of Minneapolis handled BMW for ten years. But when new marketing chief Jack Pitney called for a review a few months ago, Fallon declined to compete and walked away.

Sources said the directive of BMW said not to fool with "The Ultimate Driving Machine" tagline. Agencies have taken that to heart, but some were left wondering if it was a red herring; that BMW would actually like to see some thinking about whether or not to change it. Memo to BMW and the agencies: don't do it.

Other minions tell me that BMW is also concerned about coming up with the next big thing. The company's BMW film series was a smash hit. But its seems kind of familiar at this point, some of the BMW folks believe. Maybe it is. But it is still the gold standard for Net films, and I wouldn't be quick to walk away from that marketing genre. There is nothing unimaginitive about doing something great over and over again. Fallon's creatives were the brains behind those films, even writing the scripts which were then directed by a Hollywood A-list (except for Guy Ritchie) of directors.

Should be an interesting review for this account supporting the premier brand in the auto industry. GSD&M, led by Roy Spence, has experience with Land Rover. Kirshenbaum, ever a scrappy agency, has a strong knack for integrating ideas, whether they be advertising or PR or event marketing. The Martin Agency has done both Mercedes regional and dealer ads, as well as Saab national ads, and it always has a strong reel. Anomaly is the surprise. A young independent agency known for work for ESPN, Dasani (Coke) and The New York Times. It will be known for a lot more if it snares this gem.

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