Hilton's Homewood Suites Picks Publicis, New York, After Creative Review

Media, Digital, PR Incumbents Were Involved in Decision-Making Process

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Hilton Worldwide has named Publicis, New York, its creative agency for the Homewood Suites business, ending a review that began in the spring. The account was previously at DraftFCB, Chicago, which did not participate in the review.

"We decided we were going to be ending our 10-year campaign with Draft right after the 'Need More Room' campaign," said Carla Raynor, VP-global marketing at Homewood Suites by Hilton, in reference to the push it launched in March of this year. According to her, the company decided it was time for a marketing idea that was "more strategic." So, Ms. Raynor began a hunt for a new shop and was insistent on handling the review process herself. "While I know a lot of people use consultants and that it can be a very effective way to run an RFP ... I really felt like [doing it ourselves] helped us to get to know [agencies] better," she told Ad Age .

In an unusual move, Ms. Raynor leaned heavily on incumbent shops on other parts of Homewood Suites' account to help her to make the decision. Those shops include: RBB, Miami, for public relations; Organic , Detroit, for digital duties; and OMD, Los Angeles, for media-buying. "Their feedback was very valuable to us," Ms. Raynor said. According to Kantar Media, Hilton spent only $7 million on U.S. measured media on the Homewood Suites brand last year, but Ms. Raynor said she's putting proposals in front of her higher-ups to increase spending. Of its overall ad budget last year, 45% was devoted to paid search and direct response.

In mid-April, Homewood Suites circulated a request-for-proposal document to shops. The marketer looked at 24 agencies, a field that originally didn't include Publicis. But the agency -- which is a roster shop for Hilton, handling creative work for the Hilton Honors program -- convinced Ms. Raynor it should be considered after a phone call from Joe McCarthy, CEO of Publicis, New York.

The 24 shops were whittled down to seven, and a final round in the first week of June saw presentations at Homewood Suites' Memphis office from three agencies. Ms. Raynor declined to comment on the other two finalists, but said Publicis was "leaps and bounds beyond" the competition. "I've never seen an agency work that hard on a review."

Although a relatively small account, for Publicis' New York office, it's one of the few new-business pitches it has been in this year. "It's been ebbing and flowing in terms of the number of pitches we've been in, and the success we've had," Mr. McCarthy admitted, noting that in addition, "lately there were a couple things that were available where we had conflicts."

The new campaign is set to roll out in March.

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