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AMC Looks Outside Its Box

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AMC is searching for an agency to launch its first "off-channel" ads, the client confirmed.

Sources said contenders for the estimated $5 million advertising assignment include independent shop WestWayne in Atlanta, Havas-owned Mullen in Wenham, Mass., and entertainment specialists AD Lubow of New York and Redtettemer in Philadelphia.

Consultant Linda Ong of Truth Consulting in New York is overseeing the process. Ong referred calls to the client.

Butler, Shine & Stern of Sausalito, Calif., was awarded AMC's ad duties in February, but only worked with the client for a few months before parting over creative differences, sources said.

The Jericho, N.Y., division of Rainbow Media Holdings began an on-air branding campaign in September with help from Troilback & Co., a design firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles. The tagline: "TV for movie people." The 24-hour movie network is now looking for ways to demonstrate its new positioning in advertising media further afield.

"We see ourselves as home base for people who love movies," said Isabel Miller, AMC's senior vice president of marketing. "We want to express that and capture the emotional connection that people have to the movies."

Agencies will make presentations in early and mid-December, with a decision expected soon thereafter, sources said.

Miller said she is looking for a shop with creative and strategic strength to work with AMC's in-house ad team. "Category experience is important," she said, "but we're totally open to agencies with innovative work in other categories."

AMC, formerly known as American Movie Classics, ranks No. 16 among national cable networks, reaching 80 million homes.

In September, as the firm shifted from a subscriber-based to ad-supported network, it also updated its programming from mostly vintage Hollywood films to more recent movies from the 1970s and '80s.

"As we looked back, we saw ourselves becoming the 'Movie History Channel,'" said Miller. "But we believe that our movies are more relevant. We want to demonstrate that [in ads]."

AMC also plans to target a younger audience in its advertising.

Rainbow Media Holdings is a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp. and NBC.