The economic development body promoting inward investment into Northern Ireland was seeking a British agency to highlight the benefits of setting up a business in the country.
But all of the agencies' pitch costs came in too high for the allocated budget - which Invest Northern Ireland told PRWeek is 'five figures'.
The news comes as there is increasing concern that inward investment could be hit following the paramilitary attacks in County Antrim.
Invest Northern Ireland said it would be refining its brief then going out to re-pitch next week. Incumbent agency Edelman will continue to work for Invest Northern Ireland in the mean time.
The successful agency will highlight to potential investors the country's low operating costs compared with many other in European nations, a well-maintained infrastructure and an educated English-speaking workforce. The account will particularly focus on the ICT industry.