In the crazy world of government advertising accounts, losing such an account isn't really the end of the line for an agency. And that's what's going on right now with Campbell Ewald which lost the
$457.4 million U.S. Navy account after 15 years to Young & Rubicam back in May.
As is permissible under the contract -- which comes up for renewal every five years -- Campbell Ewald, on July 16, protested the switch to Young & Rubicam by filing a complaint with U.S. Government Accountability Office claiming the switch was unfair. That protest was denied but the agency can appeal that decision asking GAO to reconsider its decision or file a case with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Of the denial, Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer said, “While we are disappointed with the GAO decision, we’re currently looking at next steps. The fight might not be over. As we consider our options, we remain focused on the agency's future.”
If Campbell Ewald was to continue the fight, it's going to have to provide in-depth details as to why it feels the switch was unjust.
The GAO stipulates, “GAO does not consider requests for reconsideration that lack detailed statements of the factual or legal grounds upon which reversal or modification is sought, specifying any errors of law made or information not previously considered. Filing a request for reconsideration with GAO does not stay contract award or performance like filing a bid protest with GAO does.”
While these procedures and processes are certainly in place for a reason, it begs the question: Why would an agency want to work with a client that has already decided they don't want to work with the agency. Oh right, $457 million. But, still. It's like forcing an employee who quit a job for a better one to keep the job they quit. Just how well does anyone really think that would go?
Of course, Campbell Ewald is grasping at all the straws it can as things haven't gone so well in recent months. The agency lost the $280 million Cadillac account in December after moving into new Detroit digs in January 2014 specifically to handle that account. This followed earlier losses of Chevrolet and the U.S. Postal Service.
On a more positive note, the agency has had some wins bringing in the Henry Ford Health System account and a three year, $150 million contract with California's health insurance exchange, Covered California.