Marriott reviews media account

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Marriott International has launched a review of its media account with an eye toward consolidating its U.S. lodging properties, which spend about $60 million to $70 million annually.

The review comes as ad agencies already are awaiting decisions on a media and creative review being conducted by Marriott rival Hilton Hotels.


One reason behind a media consolidation is that Marriott acquired Renaissance Hotels & Resorts Group, which includes Ramada Inns, earlier this year.

Joe Okon, Marriott's senior director-advertising and marketing, said, "No comment," when asked about the review.

On the creative side, Marriott is tied to agencies of Interpublic Group of Cos.

The vast majority of Marriott's advertising is print, and Newspaper Marketing Services, St. Petersburg, Fla., a buying operation of Interpublic's Newspaper Services of America, will be in the review.


In August, Newspaper Marketing Services won a $50 million buying account from AT&T Corp. for newspaper advertising.

The agency's president, Al Corey, was traveling and couldn't be reached for comment.

McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, the agency for Marriott creative, recently won creative for Renaissance and also is pitching the media consolidation, according to an executive close to the review.

The lodging giant's other two creative shops are Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, which handles Courtyard by Marriott, and the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., which has the Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn accounts. Martin is said to be interested in the media portion.


Also pitching is Media First International, New York, which does buying for some non-lodging Marriott units.

Young & Rubicam, New York, and its Media Edge unit might also be involved in the media review, one executive close to the review said.

Executives at Martin, Media First and Media Edge did not return phone calls by press time; Lowe said it was not in the media review.

The point person at Marriott for the review is Jennifer Deutsch, VP-marketing for Renaissance, according to those involved. No consultant is being used.

"Marriott's moving very cautiously on this," said one person knowledgeable about the account.

"They've talked to a lot of people, and some of their executives need to be convinced that unbundling creative and media is the right thing to do," the person said.

Another executive said Marriott seems "to be obsessed that the winner has a lot of offices to serve them."


Marriott's thinking is, he said, "that you have to have a regional setup to service this kind of account, which is a lot of outlets in a lot of different cities with lots of print to support them."

While Y&R is not really known for a regional network, it does handle buying for Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln-Mercury Division and some other clients on a regional basis.

Furthermore, the agency is staffing up in a number of cities to offer full regional media services, and to go after media accounts that want that kind of a setup, including Marriott.


McCann is well-known for its regional buying operations.

While Marriott is primarily a print advertiser, it has been testing the waters in spot TV and cable.

"The question is, `When does the company have enough scale that major TV advertising makes sense?' " said one executive involved in the review. "It may be that with so many different brands, and having to please franchisees, local print will be the answer for a long time to come."

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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