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AMC in Agency Search

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AMC has confirmed that it is searching for an agency -- possibly two -- to handle strategic positioning for its network and individual shows as well as media planning and buying duties. Annual major media spending on the business is estimated at $20-30 million.

AMC's roots are in movie programming -- its original name was American Movie Classics -- but, like many cable networks, has expanded into original shows, chief among them Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Prisoner. The network, which reaches an estimated 95 million homes, is now reassessing its umbrella platform as well as how it positions individual shows, according to sources.

Creative duties are not part of the search, which Ark Advisors in New York is managing, a client representative said. Instead, AMC is expected to continue to use creative shops on a project basis, as needed. The Refinery Creative in Burbank, Calif., for example, has created campaigns for Mad Men in the past.

Previously, AMC also fulfilled its strategic needs via project relationships. Going forward, however, the network will retain a lead strategic shop, the rep acknowledged. And if the strategic shop also provides media services, it can handle both pieces of the account. Otherwise, the shop will have to partner with a media agency for the pitch.

The media incumbent, independent Haworth Marketing + Media in Minneapolis, has accepted an invitation to defend.

Ark has begun to contact agencies about the review, which is said to be in its early stages. AMC, a unit of Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings, is expected to conclude the process during the third quarter of the year.