NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Walt Disney Co. has begun a review for media planning and buying duties on its movies, theme parks and parts of its consumer products and Disney Channel businesses, duties that have been handled by Publicis Groupe's Starcom since 2001. This is the first time the account has been up for review since then.
Several agencies received a request for proposals this week, a Disney spokesman confirmed. "We periodically review and evaluate these contracts and our options in the marketplace," he said. "It's not all that uncommon."
Starcom referred calls to the client.
Disney was No. 7 on Ad Age's 100 Leading National Advertisers report with more than $2 billion in U.S. ad spending. Disney spent $399 million on measured media for Walt Disney Pictures in 2009, $48 million on Miramax movies and $176 million on its video division, which includes Disney, Pixar and Miramax, according to Kantar Media. The company also spent $124 million on measured media for its parks and resorts division.
In April, Walt Disney Pictures named M.T. Carney, formerly a partner at Naked Communications' U.S. operations, its top marketer. Disney Studio Chairman Rich Ross had said earlier that he was looking outside of Hollywood for a new marketing leader, one with an ability to shake things up at Disney while helping the company establish a stronger position in digital. Since the media review encompasses more than just the studio division, Ms. Carney is only one of several key executives leading the new agency search.
In September of 2009 the company dropped $4 billion to acquire Marvel and its huge cast of characters. The acquisition immediately impacted Marvel's publishing and consumer products divisions, and beginning in 2012 the company will start releasing its theatrical tentpoles like "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" under the Disney banner, ending a multi-year pact with Paramount Pictures.
Starcom had been showing lots of momentum lately. Last month the agency won Darden Restaurants' Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse media accounts, totaling nearly $300 million, and later that week Best Buy consolidated its nearly $300 million media planning and buying account with the agency. And in mid-November Harley Davidson selected Starcom as its new media agency of record.