Marriott Embarks on Global Media Consolidation

Hospitality Giant Wants to Complete Review by Fall

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Marriott International is reviewing media agencies in an attempt to consolidate the majority of its global media-planning and -buying accounts within one shop. It aims to either tap one of its four leading incumbent shops, or a new agency, by fall.

The incumbent shops -- which are Carat in the U.S., Starcom in Latin America, ZenithOptimedia in Asia and MEC on a project basis in the Europe, Middle East and Africa -- have been invited to participate in the review, according to a statement issued by Marriott. Those shops could not be reached for a comment by press time.

Creative duties, which are handled by Team One and Dentsu's McGarryBowen, as well as search marketing agency Publicis Modem, are not affected by the review.

Susan Thronson, Marriott's senior VP-global marketing, said in the statement: "We want to ensure that we are capitalizing on the global opportunities ahead and working with the best global media agency partner to help us grow our business going forward. We have a responsibility to explore alternative agencies to either confirm we have the best media partner in one of our incumbents or to partner with a new media agency resource."

A spokeswoman told Ad Age that the review is not procurement-driven. "[It's] marketing and brand-driven and based on our global reach, which has continued to expand."

Marriott has enlisted New York-based Joanne Davis Consulting to assist with the search process.

In the U.S. alone, Marriott spent around $86 million in measured media in 2010, according to Kantar Media. Global spending is estimated to be significantly higher. The company, which operates in 71 countries, expects to add more than 200 hotels around the world in 2011, according to a second-quarter earnings report. It added that in the past five years, it increased hotel distribution in the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- at a 12% compound annual growth rate, while tripling its development pipeline in those markets.

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