It is likely that Orion became interested in JWT through Denise Quon, Orion vp/media services, who joined the company from JWT/L.A. earlier this year. Beyond that connection, JWT had to prove its movie smarts against two other, experienced movie marketers. Former MGM agency WRG has a well-established movie team, and Backer has handled TriStar in Canada and CBS in the U.S.
Until 1990, JWT handled Twentieth Century Fox, which moved its business from the agency to cut costs. It handled Paramount Home Video from the late '80s through 1991. Last year, the agency picked up small, independent Samuel Goldwyn Pictures, which two months ago assigned a project to media buying firm ICG saying that it hadn't fired JWT but was reconsidering the relationship.
Quon declined comment for this story. While neither Orion nor JWT executives would confirm ad budgets, the company is expected to release 10 already-completed films this year. On an industry average of $3 million per film, that would put the budget around $30 million.
The first film JWT will work on is Married to It, an ensemble comedy coming out March 26. Budgets for the 10 films Orion had in the hopper before if filed for Chapter 11 protection have been outlined in the reorganization plan. Orion backer John Kluge, who has personally guaranteed $300 million of the company's bank debt, can add to those budgets by raising his own money. While some observers expect Kluge won't be able to continue to pour money into the company at his current rate and will shut down the studio once the films are released, The Wall Street Journal recently detailed just the opposite: that based on Kluge's highly visible cash flow, Orion may be a good, long-term investment.
With the win, JWT is expected to staff up in L.A., though the agency said it hasn't yet determined the number of hires. Over the past year, the L.A. payroll had been cut to 25 employees, as JWT's duties in the market dwindled - as of a month ago - to servicing one L.A.-based account (Allied Signal) and JWT N.Y. and Detroit clients Nestle and Ford. JWT's staff has been working out of J. Walter Thompson Recruitment Advertising, where it will continue to share a floor.
Mary Ellen Stoetzel, JWT vp, management supervisor, will oversee the account. Stoetzel has extensive entertainment experience. Rich Jarc, svp/client services for the L.A. office, will also be involved with the account.
Independent Media/N.Y., was Orion's most recent buyer, on a per film basis.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)