McCann Ends 4-Year Battle Over U.S. Army Contract

IPG agency withdraws bid protest

Solders stand in a line.
The IPG network held the account since 2005. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

More than four years after the U.S. Army first announced that it would be reviewing its advertising business in November of 2014, McCann has dropped its final legal fight against the government, withdrawing a protest filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to contest the Army’s decision to choose Omnicom’s Team DDB as agency of record.

AdAge first reported the news this afternoon.

A McCann spokesperson declined to comment beyond a statement provided to that publication by CEO Harris Diamond. The U.S. Army has not responded to a request for comment on the news.

The latest development comes one week after Adweek reported on another protest filed by the other finalist in the review, WPP’s Possible.

That document, initially filed in December and unsealed last week with a large share of information redacted, alleged that DDB won the contract by offering its services at a price significantly lower than that charged by the incumbent, McCann. The agency’s 10-year fees totaled just under $136 million.

Spokespeople for Possible and WPP declined to comment.

A lawyer at Latham & Watkins, LLP, the firm representing DDB, did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. In his commentary on McCann’s decision today, he wrote that he had discussed the request for dismissal with prejudice with the IPG legal team.

“Because all parties have expended considerable resources on this matter including the government preparing the Administrative Record and all parties filing Motions for Judgment under the Administrative Record, dismissal with prejudice is appropriate,” the Latham & Watkins document reads. “Accordingly, DDB has no objection to dismissal of the matter with prejudice as McCann’s counsel has confirmed that McCann is requesting.”

Contacts at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, the firm representing McCann, did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Since the cases are technically unrelated, WPP’s protest will most likely proceed. In its latest development last Friday, Judge Eric G. Bruggink granted requests for access to unspecified “protected information” filed by both the plaintiff, Possible, and the intervenor, DDB.

McCann has been the Army’s agency of record since 2005. Its current contract, which has been extended repeatedly amid this and other legal battles, officially ends in March.

Multiple ad industry veterans not directly involved in the Army business who spoke to Adweek on background said they had never witnessed or experienced such a convoluted review.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: January 18, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT