HILTON HOTELS AWARDS $40 MILLION ACCOUNT TO Y&R

OMD to Pick Up Media Buying Following Contentious Start to Review

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hilton Hotels Corp. has awarded its $35 million to $40 million advertising account for its Hilton flagship brand and Hilton Family of Hotels umbrella group to WPP Group's Y&R, executives familiar with the matter said.
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Y&R, according to one executive, will handle the Hilton account out of multiple offices.

OMD's media duties
Omnicom Group's OMD won the media-buying portion of the account, which covers the marketer's entire portfolio of brands: Hilton, Hilton Family, HHonors, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, DoubleTree, Homewood Suites and Embassy Suites. According to executives, OMD also won media-planning duties for the Hilton brand and Hilton Family of Hotels.

Yet to be assigned are media-planning duties on Hampton Inns, Doubletree, Homewood Suites and Embassy Suites.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding handled creative duties on the Hilton brand for the last seven years. FCB defended the account with its Irvine, Chicago and New York offices. Other contenders included Interpublic's McCann Erickson and Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, both New York.

FCB keeps three chains
FCB retains creative duties for the non-Hilton-branded properties, DoubleTree, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites brands, which were not part of the review, the executives said. TBWA continues on the Embassy Suites brand, which was also not part of the review.

Spending on those brands in 2004 was roughly $45 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Hilton spokeswoman Jeanne Datz-Rice and Director of Marketing Abby Spatz did not immediately return messages. Neither Y&R nor OMD returned phone calls.

Review process drew criticism
The selection of Y&R ends what had been a contentious start to the review in May. Hilton required any contenders for the account to sign away their rights to the ideas they pitched, even if they didn't win the business. The requirement, part of a nondisclosure agreement agencies had to sign in order to participate in the request for proposals process, immediately drew criticism from some sectors of the industry, including heavy hitters Andy Berlin and David Lubars.

Mr. Berlin, chairman of WPP's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York, had said, "As a matter of policy, it is a bad idea for any agency to give away their most valuable products, which are their ideas. But there's always someone hungry enough, and opportunities like this are enticing. It is something we wouldn't do, but it's a free country and you can stick your hand in the disposal and try to take the fork out anytime you want."

"If we as an industry don't take a stand and reinforce the value of a great idea to our clients, then we're doomed to become a commodity," said Mr. Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer of Omnicom's BBDO North America. "I'm politely declining the opportunity to give away our ideas."

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