Following requests for proposals earlier this month to around a dozen shops (described by one anonymous participant as “a little bit of vendor mentality here; ‘let's get as many [contenders] as we can!’ ”) ISP Earthlink has since briefed seven agencies on a trial creative task requiring a minimum of two campaign treatments.

Earthlink is coy as to the septet’s identity but insiders reveal them to be TBWA\Chiat\Day (Playa del Rey, California); Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (both New York); Crispin Porter + Bogusky (Miami and Los Angeles); Leo Burnett (Chicago); McKinney & Silver (Raleigh, North Carolina); and Wieden + Kennedy (Portland, Oregon).

Pitches for the $40-$50 million account, covering both creative and media planning/buying, will take place in Atlanta February 19 and 20 with the decision due by March 1. Overseeing the review is Earthlink executive vp marketing Karen Gough – whose former promotions-oriented role at Coca-Cola sparked the ‘vendor mentality’ jibe.

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