Small shop, big biz: Marriott adds McGarry to roster

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"Lady Liberty" is turning into one lucky lady for McGarry Bowen. The 9/11 remembrance TV spot created by the startup shop last fall for Verizon Communications also caught the attention of Marriott International executives, who called the agency to learn more.

That call resulted last week in McGarry Bowen joining the roster to develop national advertising for Marriott International brands. The agency, led by a trio of former Y&R Advertising senior executives and Gordon Bowen, former creative executive at WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, will work on the marketer's brands, which include Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and Fairfield Inn. Marriott spent $80 million in U.S. advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

McGarry Bowen will work alongside McCann, New York, Marriott International's creative agency for the flagship brand, Renaissance hotels, and a handful of other brands since 2001. McCann launched spots for the ongoing "Your Marriott Awaits" campaign in 2001 that featured celebrities David Copperfield, Robin Leach and Jeff Probst . More recent executions focus on business travelers.

Universal McCann retains media buying and planning.

A Marriott spokesman said no specific brands have been assigned to any one agency.

This is the second time since McGarry Bowen opened last fall that the small shop has muscled into territory claimed by a global agency player. McGarry Bowen recently replaced Interpublic's Lowe, New York, as creative agency for Verizon's $100 million corporate-branding and business-to-business accounts.

travel background

McGarry Bowen principals declined to discuss how the relationship with Marriott developed. But Messrs. Bowen, Owen and McGarry each have experience in travel and hospitality.

Mr. Bowen is known for his "Portraits" campaign and other work for American Express Co. Stewart Owen, once chief strategic officer at Y&R, developed campaigns for Hyatt hotels and British Airways. At Y&R, where he was president-CEO in the 1990s, John McGarry oversaw Holiday Inn and TWA years ago when Y&R handled both accounts.

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