American Legacy Eyes New Media Partner

BOSTON–The American Legacy Foundation is on the verge of assigning the media portion of its $60 million account to an undisclosed startup, said Chris Cullen, evp of marketing and communications at Legacy.

In November, Legacy launched an internal audit of its media buying and planning duties in conjunction with Pile and Co., the management consulting company in Boston, with an eye toward gaining more media efficiencies, though a review never developed.

As part of that process, Legacy officials spoke with some dozen media experts, including executives with Carat and Initiative Media, sources said. The work has been with Havas’ Arnold MPG in Boston, but the holding company was in the process of switching it to MPG, New York, its lead media group.

Legacy’s board made the decision on Jan. 7 and expects to sign a new contract with an undisclosed startup company next week, said Cullen. “Our decision is driven in large part by our confidence in our ability to innovate in media and buying,” Cullen said. “What we had was not bad, but we are about saving lives and we deserve better than that.”

Cullen has vowed to cut costs in every way possible, including asking broadcasters for free air time in addition to a paid media buy [Adweek, Dec. 9]. Legacy is preparing to change its operating model as most of the organization’s funding provided through the Master Settlement with Big Tobacco runs out this spring.

Cullen also said that starting tomorrow, Pile will send out invitations to shops to pitch the creative portion of the business shared by Havas’ Arnold in Boston and Maxxcom’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami.