DDB Wins Blockbuster's Ad Account

Will Form New Entertainment Unit to Handle the $12M Business

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- DDB Worldwide has won Blockbuster's marketing account, agreeing to create a new unit, dubbed DDB Entertainment, to handle the marketer's needs.

The Omnicom Group agency competed against several shops as part of a lengthy review.

DDB Worldwide CEO Chuck Brymer
DDB Worldwide CEO Chuck Brymer
DDB Worldwide CEO Chuck Brymer told Ad Age the new unit is an "inventive solution that will enable Blockbuster to engage in specific resources and expertise to build their brand using promotion, merchandising and an array of integrated communication platforms."

DDB's various entertainment properties will now be brought under this unit, which is based in Blockbuster's backyard in Dallas. Those properties are video production and movie-trailer business the Ant Farm; Uproar, a youth-marketing agency; and DDB's branded-entertainment team in Los Angeles. In all, the new unit will have more than 100 employees, Mr. Brymer said.

Bob Chimbel has been tapped to serve as CEO of DDB Entertainment, reporting to Mark O'Brien, chief operating officer of DDB North America. Most recently, Mr. Chimbel served as head of a little-known Omnicom entity called the Component Group.

The selection of DDB as a marketing partner comes after a winding search that followed Blockbuster's split with its former agency of a decade, Southfield, Mich.-based Doner. (Doner's chairman-CEO Alan Kalter previously said the agency chose to part with Blockbuster because it slashed ad spending). In 2007 Blockbuster spent $97 million on U.S. measured media, but that figure was down to $12 million for the first nine months of 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Blockbuster issued a request for proposal in late 2007, inviting holding companies and independent agencies to pitch its account. Final presentations took place in March 2008, but at the conclusion of the process, Blockbuster decided not to award its business to anyone.

It then stated it wanted to go without an agency of record, before arriving at the solution DDB has agreed to provide.

That a company run by Jim Keyes, the former CEO of 7-Eleven stores, would demand a custom-built solution, and within Omnicom, comes as no surprise. Mr. Keyes earlier had Omnicom create a marketing team called Freshworks for 7-Eleven and also has long-standing relationships with a range of agencies at the holding company.

A Blockbuster spokeswoman called the newly created DDB Entertainment a "comprehensive, responsive and cost-efficient model that serves us well as we continue to reinvent ourselves for the future," in a statement.

"Blockbuster remains a great, pervasive brand that is repositioning itself to compete in the ever-changing entertainment arena," Mr. Chimbel said.

Under the leadership of Mr. Keyes, Blockbuster has been attempting to evolve from a video-rental chain to a full-service media delivery company.

In an interview with Ad Age last March, Mr. Keyes compared his challenges -- and opportunities -- to Apple.

"Apple was successfully able to redefine itself from a computer-hardware maker into an entertainment provider through the iPod and even a retailer through the Apple stores," Mr. Keyes said. "And Blockbuster has that same opportunity. I believe we can transform the brand by transforming the relevance to the customer by the way we reach out to them in their daily lives."

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