Trahan in line for tourism contract Bids by Campbell Group and Gray, Kirk/VanSant apparently fall short


The state's Board of Public Works is expected to approve a five-year, $35 million advertising contract today with Trahan, Burden & Charles to promote tourism and economic development in Maryland.

One of the mid-Atlantic area's largest advertising and public relations agencies with more than 130 employees and annual billings of $142 million, Trahan scored highest among three firms that made proposals to state officials.

"We're absolutely thrilled to be selected as the apparent winner," said Robert Matz, president of the ad agency. "It's a great contract to win, and we really look forward to representing them for the next five years."

The contract has been held for the past five years by W. B. Doner & Co. That agency elected not to bid for another five-year term after its existing contract expires on June 30.

"We declined to participate in it," said Tony Everett, Doner general manager. He would not discuss the specific reasons for the agency's decision.

The new contract is for an amount not to exceed $35 million over the next five years -- more than double the $15 million contract awarded to Doner in 1993.

Officials of two other Baltimore-based ad agencies that bid on the account -- the Campbell Group Inc. and Gray, Kirk/Van Sant -- said they had no quarrel with the evaluation process handled by a committee set up by the Department of Business and Economic Development.

"From my perspective, it was fair," said Andy Dumaine, creative director for the Campbell Group. "They've structured the process to take as much of the subjectivity out of it as possible."

Still, Dumaine said, his agency was disappointed to come in second.

"We killed ourselves to get this business because our specialty is travel and tourism, and we just felt uniquely qualified to deliver the goods," Dumaine said. "Our whole strategy seemed smart and efficient."

Dumaine said his agency represents the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors' Association "so we thought there were some nice synergies there."

Roger Gray, president and chief executive officer of Gray, Kirk/VanSant, also said he was disappointed.

"This process was no different than any other state process," Gray said. "We knew what we were getting into. I have no complaints about that [the evaluation process] at all. Everybody played above-board and fairly."

Matz of Trahan, Burden & Charles said it was premature to talk about his agency's strategy for promoting tourism and economic development in Maryland since the Board of Public Works will not vote on the contract until today.

Matz said his agency represents such corporate clients as Baltimore-area Ford dealers, The Baltimore Sun Co. and Provident Bank of Maryland. The firm's travel and tourism portfolio has included such past clients as the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors' Association and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, he said.

Trahan, Burden & Charles was the Maryland State Lottery's advertising agency for 15 years until April 1997 when another firm, Eisner & Associates, Inc., was awarded a five-year, $12.5 million contract to handle the lottery's advertising.

Earlier this year, Trahan, Burden & Charles laid off seven employees after losing a $30 million account with Micron Electronics, Inc., a Nampa, Idaho, company that designs and manufactures computers.

Pub Date: 6/10/98

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