N.J. Nets Hire BrandBuzz Before Bklyn Move

NEW YORK The New Jersey Nets have hired BrandBuzz to handle creative and media duties on its ad account, the client confirmed. Billings are estimated at $3-4 million.

BrandBuzz, a unit of WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam, bested two other finalists to land the business: Omnicom Group’s Zimmerman & Partners in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the creative incumbent, Kerwin Communications in West Caldwell, N.J., according to sources.

The review was triggered by the installation of new CEO Brett Yormark [Adweek Online, Jan. 26] and came as the team layed the groundwork for a move to Brooklyn, in time for the 2008-9 NBA season. Yormark, who started in January, is a former top marketing executive at Nascar.

“He was challenged by [Nets owner] Bruce Ratner to be the best organization in sports,” said Leo Ehrline, an svp at Nets Sports & Entertainment in Rutherford, N.J. “We just needed to step up our marketing strategy.”

In addition to traditional advertising, the New York-based BrandBuzz will create Web ads, direct mail and specialized marketing pieces such as recruitment kits designed to lure players to the team, said agency CEO Rick Eiserman. The shop’s first campaign is expected in September.

During its daylong kickoff meeting with the client last week, Eiserman and other BrandBuzz personnel met everyone from coach Lawrence Frank to the group sales chief and the executive who manages the Nets dancers.

“We’re essentially starting from scratch,” said Eiserman, who added that the shop has an “incredible opportunity to help transform the Nets organization into a world-class brand.”

The Nets are looking to build its fan base in advance of its move to Brooklyn, where it plans to build a new arena designed by architect Frank Gehry.