Thrifty Car Rental
Budget: $10 million
Decision date: September
Incumbent: Ackerman McQueen, Oklahoma City
The 1,200-unit chain has a 4 percent U.S. market share, with designs on increasing its tourism and business travel segments (hence the 1997 introduction of its BlueChip Express corporate traveler program). Thrifty and sister company Dollar Rent a Car were spun off from Chrysler in December, and are finally making profits after years as money-losing units of the automaker. Dollar/Thrifty, Tulsa, Okla., is the fourth major car-rental operation (Hertz, Avis, Budget) to change hands in the past two years. Unlike most competitors, Thrifty’s local rental revenues are nearly equal to business generated from airport traffic.
The client is keenly interested in the travel industry experience of senior executives at each contender. Thrifty also says it wants “much more exciting” broadcast creative to replace the jingle-oriented output from Ackerman McQueen. The incumbent resigned after presenting a new campaign that Thrifty didn’t like, even when the shop offered to front $250,000 in production costs in order to test it. Saatchi & Saatchi chairman emeritus Ed Wax, who holds a seat on Dollar/ Thrifty’s board of directors, is not involved in the review. A cut to three is expected this week.
Cliff Freeman and Partners, New York
Client impressed with shop’s stellar creative on Little Caesars. Brian Mulhern, group account director, worked on Hertz at Wells BDDP, while senior account manager Jeff Geisler worked on Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Bernstein-Rein Advertising, Kansas City, Mo.
Shop was a finalist in Thrifty’s last review, as well as Alamo’s (won by FCB, N.Y.). Known for its ads for Wal-Mart, Blockbuster and McDonald’s. Also works with CarChoice superstores and RentWay rent-to-own outlets.
Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas
Temerlin brings travel stripes to one of its rare new business forays, via its work for American Airlines. With Subaru sales up 18 percent through July, the agency can move cars off dealer lots, but can that translate to rentals?
The Richards Group, Dallas
Agency’s work for Motel 6 and former client Continental Airlines helped earn it a ticket to Thrifty’s contest, but with shop involved in at least five other pitches, is it spreading itself too thin?
Campbell-Ewald Advertising, Warren, Mich.
Best known as national agency for GM’s Chevrolet, but has also worked on Continental’s OnePass frequent flier program since its inception. Shop was also a finalist last year in another auto rental review–Ryder TRS.
Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown, Orlando, Fla.
Shop says it was approached by Thrifty because of its reputation as a travel and tourism specialist. Agency has picked up several resort accounts, but does not have car rental experience.
Budget: $5-10 million
Decision date: late August/early September
Incumbent: DDB Needham, New York
Allied Domecq’s Hiram Walker unit is looking to rejuvenate Canadian Club in the U.S. as it faces increased competition from category leader Brown-Forman’s Canadian Mist and Seagram’s Crown Royal. IDV North America’s Black Velvet ranks third, followed by Canadian Club. The Southfield, Mich.-based client plans to extend its Canadian Club portfolio with 100 Proof, Sherry Cask and Reserve lines, targeting 25-39-year-olds. The review is for creative duties; media buying remains with Hudson Media Group.
This is the brand’s second review in two years. Last June, Canadian Club hired DDB Needham, New York, on a project basis. DDB’s campaign was built around a “Club rules” theme, which encouraged “men to be men.” The client liked the positioning (and has asked contenders to expand on it), but is open to alternatives, sources said. It was not happy with DDB’s service–the shop was not asked to defend. The client also feels “Midwestern values” are important. Allied has said the account is worth $10 million in billings, but it spent only $113,000 in 1997.
Agency’s proximity to the client is a plus, as well as its knowledge of Midwestern values. Allied and BBDO have a few recent connections: Global brand manager Todd Martin is an ex-PepsiCo and Pizza Hut executive and knows the New York office’s work; Chicago shop is pitching Allied’s Kahlœa. No guarantees, though: BBDO in London was cut from client’s Ballantine’s review.
Cliff Freeman and Partners, New York
Shop is a contender on the strength of its reel and award-winning work for Allied’s Sauza Conmemorativo tequila. Hence, the pitch is being led by group account director Maggie Bergin, who heads the Sauza business.
Doe-Anderson Advertising, Louisville, Ky.
The $65 million shop is seeing the payoff for its many years of quiet service handling Allied’s Makers Mark bourbon, the folksy advertising for which has established the brand as a favorite of the business class.
Richards Group, Dallas
No liquor experience, but works for Gambrinus’ Corona brand. Agency’s knowledge of client’s target (blue-collar, middle-American, largely male) from work for Home Depot and Motel 6 will be a strength.
Weiss, Whitten, Stagliano, New York
Shop already handles Allied’s Gallardon and Triada tequilas and Courvoisier cognac, and has proven its creative chops with its award-winning campaigns for Allied’s Tres Generaciones tequila.
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