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$30-40 Mil. Billings Bonus For Levenson & Hill

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Renters Choice Consolidates Rent-A-Center's Advertising In Dallas
DALLAS--Levenson & Hill here has reaped the benefits of as much as $30-40 million in new billings after garnering the consolidated advertising account of client Renters Choice and former rent-to-own category leader Rent-A-Center.
Both the $70 million agency and Renters Choice confirmed the shop is working on a 1999 marketing plan, complete with a major television broadcast component, that will support the enlarged 2,100-store chain with a $55-60 million ad budget.
Dallas-based Renters Choice last month completed its $900 million acquisition of the larger Thorn Americas-owned Rent-A-Center, shuttering that company's Wichita, Kan., headquarters to streamline operations here.
Levenson & Hill will handle all creative and media assignments for the predominately direct response and collateral account.
"We will break advertising for the consolidated group at the beginning of the year," said agency chairman Bill Hill, who led the pitch last March to land the $15 million advertising account for Renters Choice's 508 units and its 267-store ColorTyme subsidiary.
With the addition of 1,400 Rent-A-Center, Remco and U-Can-Rent stores, Renters Choice has vaulted to the No.1 position in the rent-to-own industry, with nearly one-third of the nation's stores in its fold, according to Ann Davids, client vice president of marketing and advertising.
With the exception of the ColorTyme brand, all the stores will convert to the Rent-A-Center banner to enhance image-building efforts that normally do not supersede pricing and convenience messages. "We'll be on TV like we never have before," said Davids.
Davids said Rent-A-Center's previous ad budget was a "gray area," but estimated the former owners spent approximately $40 million through in-house marketing efforts.
Research by Levenson & Hill convinced the company to forgo promoting separate brands, said Davids. She also noted the client did not consider placing the consolidated account into review or adding other agency partners.