Burson-Marsteller Adds Marriott Hotels & Resorts

Crisis Firm Keeps Growing Consumer Roster of Clients

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Burson-Marsteller is going after -- and winning -- more consumer-PR clients. The WPP shop, which has traditionally been a go-to firm for crisis public relations, has just added Marriott Hotels and Resorts.

The agency has been aggressively adding clients in the consumer space over the past year. The approach is likely the result of more integration between corporate and crisis communications and digital and consumer marketing.

"We are proud to add Marriott Hotels & Resorts to our portfolio of consumer marketing clients that include Sony Mobile, Discover, Met Life (sports marketing), Hormel Foods and Avon," a Burson-Marsteller spokesman told Ad Age . "We have also added some clients in recent weeks that we look forward to announcing soon."

Marriott began a review last fall and had previously handled the work in-house.

"When I took on this brand seven to eight months ago, one priority was to bring on an agency," said Marriott VP-global PR John Wolf. "We liked what [Burson-Marsteller] had to present. [The work] speaks for itself."

About a year ago, the firm hired Lisa Travatello in the newly created role of creative director and head of the global brand and consumer practice. Since then the firm has added, among others, Saban Brands, which is the parent company of the Power Rangers and Paul Frank brands. It also supported the PR effort for a Uniqlo flagship opening in New York.

Marriott International, the hotel brand's parent, brought on WPP's MEC as its global AOR for media buying and planning late last year. The company had told Ad Age that it expected its media spend to exceed its $86 million outlay on measured media in 2010, according to Kantar.

At the time, Susan Thronson, senior VP-global marketing, said that at least one-third of the company's U.S. budget was spent on digital in 2010.

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