Weber Shandwick wins potential $28m Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration contract

The account runs for five years.

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ANNAPOLIS, MD: Weber Shandwick has won a contract potentially worth $28 million from Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration to educate the public about the state’s Highway Safety Office and its initiatives.

On December 4, Maryland’s Board of Public Works awarded the Interpublic Group agency the five-year contract, which started on Thursday, with a spending ceiling of $20 million and an optional two-year renewal period with a limit of $8 million. The budget numbers are a not-to-exceed amount for potential assignments during the length of the contract, according to notes from a Board of Public Works meeting.

The state publicly issued an RFP on December 3, 2018, and also invited 20 firms to compete. Eight agencies responded, with one deemed ineligible. Three were shortlisted: Weber, Red House Communications of Pittsburgh and McAndrew Company, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

The incumbent, Integrated Designs Incorporated from Glen Burnie, Maryland, submitted a proposal but was not chosen. The firm did not respond to requests for comment about the decision.

A Maryland Department of Transportation MVA evaluation committee ranked the finalists according to technical ability and financial proposals.

Weber was judged as second-best technically after Red House Communications. However, the differences were not considered significant, and Weber earned a better overall ranking because its bid of $5.7 million was more than a million dollars less expensive than Red House’s proposal of $6.7 million.

The board said Weber’s technical ability justified not awarding the work to the lowest bidder, which was McAndrew Company with a much less expensive proposal of $2.9 million.

Weber will provide full-service media, marketing and consulting services to promote public safety on state roadways including public-safety campaigns and messages using traditional media, social, PR, community outreach and research; crisis comms; website management, as well as other related activities necessary to carry out the work," according to the meeting notes.

The MVA said in the RFP that it was looking for a firm to handle market strategy, strategic planning, reputation management, digital and social media, creative, public relations services, ad hoc campaign materials and promotional items and media planning and placement.

A Weber spokesperson said via email that the firm "has designated a diverse and highly skilled Baltimore-based team to lead and execute the road safety initiatives across multi-channel campaigns and community outreach efforts throughout the year."

Weber is part of IPG’s Constituency Management Group. CMG chairman and CEO Andy Polansky said CMG’s PR firms posted low-single-digit growth in Q3 on both an as-reported and organic basis. Weber’s revenue grew 5% in 2018 to $846 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report.

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