AOL Taps Martin for Fall Branding Push

NEW YORK Three weeks after parting with Wieden + Kennedy, America Online said it has hired The Martin Agency to develop a print-centric brand initiative for the fall.

The Dulles, Va.-based Time Warner Internet unit selected the Interpublic Group shop based on its “strategic ability, as well as creative” after considering a short list of undisclosed others, said AOL svp of brand marketing Richard Taylor.

Though Taylor has not worked with Martin in the past, he said he has known the Richmond, Va., shop’s CEO, John Adams, and president and chief creative, Mike Hughes, for years, and has admired its work for Geico, UPS and Vanilla Coke.

The budget was undisclosed. AOL spent nearly $290 million on measured media last year and about $100 million for the first six months of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The company put less than $5 million behind print ads last year, per Nielsen.

An AOL representative said the addition of Martin to the company’s agency roster does not affect its relationship with Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York, which is creating a multimedia campaign that also is slated for the fall. (Sources said that AOL did not consider BBDO for the assignment that Martin is handling.) Details on the two branding efforts were not disclosed, but the rep said they would tackle different objectives.

Late last month, independent Wieden in Portland, Ore., resigned AOL’s estimated $50 million branding assignment. At the time of the split, Taylor said the company wanted to portray itself as “really listening to our members” and highlight the “sophisticated ways of using AOL that just weren’t available before. … The brand stands for going beyond the ordinary.”