A request for proposals has been issued by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for its $152 million account stripped in August from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in New York after alleged over-billing.

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign is federal government’s largest media account, run in conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug Free America and the Ad Council.

Up for grabs is a one-year contract with an option for an extra three years. However, the additional years are dependent on whether the scheme continues to receive funding – something which will not become clear until President Bush delivers his budget to Congress in February.

O&M was fired following a row triggered by a former employee who claimed the shop had deliberately overcharged for its ONDCP work. The agency, however, argued it was merely not au fait with government accounting practices [WAMN: 15-Aug-01].

The proposal request is open to all agencies though the ONDCP, understandably after the O&M fiasco, is looking for a shop with experience of government duties. It stressed that the account was a social marketing campaign, adding that a multicultural approach, with “messages tailored to a broad range of racial and ethnic audiences,” was “critical”.

Hotly tipped to be pitching are Bates Worldwide and Zenith Media, both former ONDCP agencies; one-time US Army incumbent Y&R Advertising; and Leo Burnett USA, the Army’s current shop. Replies to the request are due November 29.

News source: AdAge.com