AMF Bowling Has Account Spare

AMF Bowling Worldwide is talking to six contenders about assuming creative and media duties on its $10-15 million advertising account.
The shops are: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; Hampel/Stefanides and Merkley Newman Harty, both in New York; The Richards Group, Dallas; Chicago Creative Partnership; and Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.
Merrell Wreden, vice president of marketing at AMF in Richmond, said he hopes to narrow the field to finalists within the next two weeks. Martin Agency chairman emeritus Harry Jacobs is assisting AMF with the pitch, confirmed a client representative.
Incumbent Mumford Marketing, also in Richmond, won the account last year [Adweek Southeast, Feb. 3]. Prior to Mumford, the client used several shops on a project basis. Wreden said Mumford would still “have a role” in AMF’s plans after a lead agency was selected. He would not elaborate.
“Our business is growing and we [want to] market our bowling centers more aggressively,” Wreden said. Media duties may be assigned separately, he added.
One of the client’s aims is to mainstream bowling by positioning it more as entertainment than sport. The company has already touted “Xtreme bowling” sessions, utilizing fluorescent pins and balls under black lights.
AMF’s 1997 sales were $714 million, a 30 percent rise over 1996, per Hoover’s Online. Its net income was $55 million. An initial public offering completed in November generated $284 million in net proceeds, the company reported.
The money was used to reduce debt and raise capital for growth and acquisitions. However, “bowling’s kingpin,” as Hoover’s terms the client, spent just $4 million on ads last year, per Competitive Media Reporting.
AMF’s closest rival is Brunswick, handled by Ackerman McQueen in Tulsa, Okla.
The company’s three main divisions are AMF Bowling Products, AMF Bowling Centers and AMF Playmaster, its billiards unit.