SIX FLAGS AND GREY SPLIT UNDER PARKS' NEW PARENT: PREMIER SHIFTS TO ACKERMAN; PROMOTIONS MAY GAIN FAVOR

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The trend of marketer mergers leading to agency consolidations continued late last week, with Grey Advertising and Six Flags Theme Parks parting ways just two months after the theme park chain was acquired by Premier Parks.

Grey and Six Flags said they mutually decided to split; the Six Flags account moves to Premier Parks' longtime agency, Ackerman McQueen, Oklahoma City.

The account is worth an estimated $40 million, but spending could drop if Premier shifts to a more promotion-driven strategy for the 12-park Six Flags chain.

"GOOD BUSINESS SENSE"

"Because Ackerman McQueen has grown up with Premier, knows our operating systems and is based in our headquarters town, it makes good business sense to consolidate the advertising assignment with them," said Premier Parks CEO Kieran Burke in a statement.

The Grey-Six Flags relationship was short-lived. The New York agency announced its Six Flags win last September, but the contract didn't begin until January.

In late February, Grey launched Six Flags' first national branding work with a quirky campaign made up of eight humorous executions.

In one spot, a teen-ager triumphantly vomits after getting motion sick on a ride (AA, June 1). In another, a dwarf dons a pair of red spike heels to meet the height requirement of a ride. The theme line is the challenge, "You in or you out?"

BRANDING MOVE

During last year's review, agencies were told Six Flags was looking to move away from promotions and discounts to a universal branding message for its theme parks.

VP-Marketing Steve Savino, a leader in the effort to create a single brand image, left Six Flags soon after Premier's acquisition. Premier now is said to be looking to go back to a promotion-oriented marketing effort.

"The Premier acquisition of Six Flags dramatically shifted our assignment from a national brand campaign to a more local, promotional-oriented campaign run for each park. We agreed with Premier that the nature of this assignment was not what we had signed up for, and was best handled by their longtime agency," said Grey President Bob Berenson in a statement.

Contributing: Barbara Brody.

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