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AFG Wins Hotel Account

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Avrett Free Ginsberg has won creative and media duties on St. Regis Hotels' estimated $6 million account after a three-month review.

AFG, New York, beat crosstown shops Spike/DDB, Frierson Mee + Partners and Bouchez Kent + Co. Incumbent Weiss Stag liano Partners in New York, which had the business for two years, declined to defend.

The win includes a branding assignment for eight St. Regis hotels, which are owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. (Starwood acquired the St. Regis line in 1998 after a merger with Sheraton Hotels & Resorts.)

AFG "hit a creative solution and delivered a direction we hadn't seen before," said Scott Williams, chief creative officer of Starwood, who declined to elaborate.

Frank Ginsberg, agency chairman and CEO, called St. Regis "a premium brand," noting, "This win adds to our other luxury clients like Dewar's 12, Van Cleef & Arpels, LuxuryFinder.com and Bacardi."

Williams explained that the account went into review because of management changes and decisions to bolster the brand, which had not spent a significant amount on advertising in the past two years.

The shop's first work will be a print campaign to mark the opening of St. Regis' newest property in Dana Point, Calif. Ads will appear in July issues of Travel + Lei sure, The New Yorker and Town & Country magazines.

The client spent about $270,000 on ads last year, per CMR.

St. Regis' main competitors are Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotels. Other Starwood properties include Sheraton, Westin and W hotels.

AFG, a unit of True North, claims billings of $245 million. Its other accounts include Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Purina Cat Chow.