M&C adds mass with EAS victory

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Nutritional supplement maker EAS hopes M&C Saatchi, New York, can help it flex its marketing muscles.

The company, whose new ad campaign features National Football League personalities John Elway and Shannon Sharpe, tapped M&C Saatchi after a review that included the Lord Group and Balet & Albert, both New York.

EAS had handled creative, including the latest NFL effort, in-house. Billings through yearend are estimated at $10 million.

The selection of M&C Saatchi marries a marketer well-known among athletes and weight lifters with an agency renowned for its work on high-end airline British Airways.

"For the agency, it's a move to the mass market, and we're so pleased since all of our past lives have been in that market -- from Procter & Gamble to Kellogg to whatever," said M&C Saatchi Executive Chairman Robert Fletcher of the experience of the top M&C Saatchi executives.

BEYOND BODYBUILDERS

EAS has built an identity on the backs (and backsides) of sports stars such as Messrs. Elway and Sharpe. Those stars and other members of the Denver Broncos have worn hats and shirts emblazoned with the EAS logo on the sidelines during games. Boxers who endorse EAS have worn the company logo on the rear of their trunks in the ring.

But the company, which rose to prominence by marketing niche supplements and other products targeted to bodybuilders, has made a recent push to extend its visibility outside the sports arena and into the mass market, where sales of nutritional supplements continue to soar.

Earlier this year, the company launched its AdvantEdge line of nutrition bars and protein drinks aimed at active people, ages 25 to 54, who are on the go and want quick, easy nutrition. AdvantEdge is available at Wal-Mart Stores locations and other mass outlets.

"They want to build that brand, and they want to be the market leader," Mr. Fletcher said.

In August, EAS launched the TV and print effort with Messrs. Elway and Sharpe. The ads were shot July 17 under the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television & Radio Artists interim agreement.

ABC-ESPN DEAL

The bulk of the media buy consists of a cross-media deal with ABC and ESPN that allows EAS to run the spots during "NFL Monday Night Football," among other outlets.

M&C Saatchi is expected to launch its first work this fall and likely break from EAS' sports star-oriented creative.

"Sports could continue to be featured," Mr. Fletcher said. "But we're going to be looking at the whole way the brand presents itself creatively."

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