Hard on the heels of news that the Office of National Drug Control Policy is talking with shops other than incumbent Ogilvy & Mather after its alleged overcharging [WAMN: 14-Aug-01], comes O&M’s first public response to the accusation.

In a letter to the editor of Advertising Age, O&M North America ceo Tro Piliguian claims that the agency has "outperformed and under-billed" the government for its anti-drug ad work. He conceded, however, that "Ogilvy did not meet its accounting obligations under that unique government contract.” Since which time, he assured, “we have taken the decisive steps necessary to prevent these issues in the future”.

According to Piliguian, following the allegations the WPP-owned shop hired an independent accounting firm to bring its billings system into line with government requirements. It had also reported those instances in which it had not been in compliance to the Justice Department and other federal agencies; also withdrawing any invoice that didn't meet the strictest requirements of billable work.

The letter continued: “We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and providing outstanding client service. There is nothing we value more than our reputation for integrity.”

Other than on billing issues, the ONDCP has declared itself satisfied with O&M, praising it for its advertising work. Meantime, as reported yesterday, the account is shortly due for its fourth mandatory annual review.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline