Razorfish, Kaplan Thaler Win Sheraton Hotels Business

Publicis Siblings Take Lead for Starwood Brand, Ending Its Recession-Induced Creative-Agency Hiatus

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After a recession-induced creative-agency hiatus, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has picked Razorfish as lead agency with Publicis Groupe sibling Kaplan Thaler Group after a review.

It's a coming-out party of sorts for the Starwood hotel chain. Last year, Sheraton completed a $6 billion renovation of its properties, including shuttering 35 hotels. Before the recession, Sheraton worked with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch and eventually moved all spending to digital. In the review, Sheraton considered both traditional and digital agencies. SapientNitro and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners were finalists, say executives familiar with the review.

"We knew we needed to find a communications partner that would help us evangelize these improvements and bring to life our new brand positioning," Brian Povinelli, VP-brand management for Sheraton North America, said in a statement. "We expected strong digital ideas, but the two agencies together brought a compelling point of view for the brand."

Razorfish has handled Starwood media planning and search since 2003. Sheraton spent $24 million on domestic measured media last year, according to Kantar Media data.

"This is a significant win for us and is more proof that our digital DNA is a huge advantage,"said Pete Stein, president-Razorfish East. "Even two years ago, it was unheard of for digital shops to be awarded lead-agency status. And while Sheraton is certainly an innovator that is blazing the trail, we expect others to follow."

In partnership with its new Publicis Groupe siblings, Razorfish has been on recent tear with wins on Travelocity, Intel, Microsoft and Disney. The French holding company purchased the agency from Microsoft in 2009.

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