New Business: Inside the Pitch – American Legacy Foundation, Washington

American Legacy Foundation, Washington
Budget: $50-60 million
Decision date: May
Incumbents: Arnold, Boston; CP+B, Miami

Market Situation
It’s about the benjamins in this creative review. The client wants to keep “Truth” relevant and fresh – for less money. Without the funds to do as many TV spots, how can Legacy get the most out of what it has to spend? It received the last of five $300 million payouts from the Master Settlement agreement with Big Tobacco in April, and while it says it has $584 million in the bank, it is being more frugal. The ad budget has been slashed from $90 million to $50-60 million, and while TV remains in the mix, there will be a greater emphasis on print, direct, promotions and grassroots outreach. The client wants more tie-ins like the ongoing fundraiser on QVC (selling a “circle of friends” pin) and an upcoming print effort (co-sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation) using celebrities whose lives have been affected by tobacco-related illnesses. Whoever wins the pitch will have to make do with less but live up to a high standard of effectiveness: Smoking rates nationwide are down 49 percent among 8th graders, 42 percent among 10th graders and 27 percent among 12th graders since 1996, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Scoop
The shop that wins may be the one that best balances creative fire and buttoned-down account management, because those contrasting traits characterize the review’s key decision maker. Legacy CEO Cheryl Healton, who heads a five-person review committee, favors the in-your-face, attack mode of “Truth” creative. But she’s also a physician with a conservative management style. She remains troubled by a 2001 incident in which Arnold spliced together separate calls by a teen to Lorillard Tobacco for a radio spot. (Even before learning of the incident, Lorillard had filed suit, alleging that Legacy violated the Master Settlement agreement. The case is pending.) Also a key client player is marketing and communications evp Chris Cullen, an ardent proponent of Legacy’s “do more with less” mission. He oversaw the shift in media buying from Havas’ Arnold MPG to independents R.J. Palmer Media Services and Media Head, and has said he wants the kind of pro-bono backup to buys that the ONDCP enjoys. The fact that media has moved from Havas, coupled with lingering tension over the radio editing, doesn’t help the incumbents’ chances.

The Contenders
Chairman Ed Eskandarian is anchoring the Havas shop’s pitch team defending the account and is more involved in this review than any since Arnold pursued BellSouth in late 2001. It’s a testament to how important the account is to the Boston shop: Besides bringing national prestige and the opportunity to win awards, Legacy also represents 3-4 percent of the office’s $116 million in annual revenue. Eskandarian’s mannered style balances out the creative flair of Pete Favat, managing partner/group creative director at Arnold, and Alex Bogusky, cd of Maxxcom’s CP+B. It’s a combination that may appeal to both sides of Legacy CEO Cheryl Healton’s nature. The team will present new executions in the aggressive style of its previous work. “We will live and die with the ‘Truth,’ ” says one source.

The Interpublic Group shop will play up its proprietary “youth truths” strategic planning system, which uses quantitative and qualitative research focusing on the motivation and behavior of Gen Y for clients such as the U.S. Navy, Chevrolet, Michelin and Pier 1. The C-E team, led by chief creative officer Bill Ludwig and president, managing director Jim Palmer, will also tout its award-winning Ad Council campaign for colon-cancer awareness and prevention, starring the irreverent “Polyp Man” as its spokesperson.

GSD&M Austin, Texas
The Omnicom shop couldn’t make it past the RFP stage when it pitched Legacy’s inaugural account four years ago. But the agency has added some relevant experience since then, winning the U.S. Air Force and the AARP – accounts that, like Legacy, often present complex, politically charged challenges.

WIEDEN + KENNEDY Portland, Ore.
The only independent and the smallest contender among the final four, Wieden has no anti-smoking or medical-related experience and no known ties to the client. Dan Wieden and COO Dave Luhr will attempt to link the agency’s creation of a “fitness movement” for Nike to the challenge of “moving” kids off tobacco. Wieden can also tout its efforts for another cause-driven client, the pro-bono American Indian College Fund.