Riney Resigns Bally’s Creative

By Trevor Jensen

CHICAGO–The occasionally rocky relationship between Hal Riney & Partners/Heartland and Bally Total Fitness is over, with creative and production duties now being handled by a New York production company.

The alliance between Riney and Chicago-based Bally’s had been uneasy for some time before the agency resigned the creative assignment. Differences over compensation were one source of friction, according to sources.

Riney last year created and produced a flight of membership spots for Bally’s that ran through the beginning of 1997.

Media planning and buying remains at Western International Media in Los Angeles.

Bally Total Fitness spent $42 million on advertising for its chain of health clubs in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

John Wildman, vice president of marketing at Bally, could not be reached for comment. An assistant at the company confirmed that the account is no longer at Riney.

For now, all creative and production chores are handled by C&C Films in New York. Steve Conner, a director with the production company, helmed several television spots with Riney. Bally has continued to run variations of those spots to tout membership promotions throughout this year.

Geomar Wells, Conner’s assistant, confirmed that C&C is doing all creative and production work for Bally’s.

No review of agencies has been launched, according to sources.

The departure of the Bally’s business did not lead to any layoffs at Riney. The agency stopped doing work for Bally’s for several months last year before completing a series of spots for the fitness chain’s January sales blitz, said Barry Krause, managing director of Riney/Heartland.

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED