Saatchi Wins CDC’s Youth Media

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named Saatchi & Saatchi lead agency for its $125 million Youth Media Campaign.

The New York agency fielded a support team that included fellow Publicis Groupe shops Zenith Media, Frankel (direct marketing) and Publicis Dialog (public relations). It edged out an Omnicom group led by DDB in Seattle. Semifinalists TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco and Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis were eliminated earlier in the nine-month review.

A decision had been slated for Sept. 15 but was delayed as the federal government focused on the Sept. 11 tragedy [Adweek, Sept. 24]. However, CDC associate director of communications Michael Greenwell confirmed that the campaign, which has been funded by Congress for one year, will go forward.

Among other shops, DDB partnered with public relations specialist Porter Novelli in New York.

Last week, officials at Saatchi and DDB were either unavailable or declined comment.

The Atlanta-based CDC designed the initiative to encourage healthy habits among “tweens” 9-13, a group that researchers say is increasingly inactive and overweight.

Plans call for Frankel in Chicago to coordinate event marketing, online and grassroots initiatives. Saatchi will handle creative for an ad campaign. Publicis Dialog in New York will lead PR. Minority-targeted efforts will be handled by A Partnership in New York, an Asian American shop, and Garcia LKS 360, a San Antonio-based Hispanic shop.

Unlike anti-tobacco or anti-drug campaigns, the emphasis will be on encouraging rather than discouraging a type of behavior. The CDC’s review guidelines suggested the initiative include touring companies of teen celebrities and peer role models engaging in exercise and other healthy outdoor activities.