Media savvy made the difference in Davis Media Group's winning the Best Western International marketing account last week.
The Baltimore shop, which has only added creative services to its skill set in recent years, defeated crosstown rival Gray, Kirk/Van Sant and Moses Anshell in Phoenix, Ariz., to win the estimated $20-25 million account.
"Media was the last thing any client wanted to think about," said agency president Laurie Davis. "They wanted creative. Now, with a recession looming, they understand media money is money well spent. We can make their marketing dollars go a lot further."
Client managing director of advertising Vicki Meyers echoed Davis: "We were pleased with all the presentations, but only Davis hit nearly on the money with our direction and strategy."
Davis, a 12-year-old agency with nearly 50 employees, has kept a low profile. The shop uses ComTraker, its proprietary, Internet-enabled software to handle media buying for clients as diverse as The Discovery Channel in Washington, D.C., Fila athletic shoes in Baltimore and Su-baru Southeast in Atlanta.
On the creative side, Davis will debut a national print and network television campaign this spring branding Best Western as the "world's largest hotel chain."
"That's our whole battle cry," said Davis. "Best Western didn't have a positioning statement that set it apart in people's minds. What we've got is a little stronger."
The campaign will include concurrent cable television and interactive advertising. Cable outlets have not yet been determined.
Best Western, a network of independently owned and operated hotels, provides marketing, reservations and operational support for more than 4,000 facilities in 83 countries. In 2000, corporate revenue totaled $157 million, exclusive of income generated by individual hotels.
"Best Western has been holding its own," said Davis. "But last year was a good year for the entire hospitality industry. Things are totally different this year."
Fears of a softening market have already triggered rivals like Motel 6 to break marketing campaigns months ahead of the traditional early spring kick-off date.
"Why would you be advertising in January?" asks Davis. "It's because people are scared. They've got to beat last year's numbers."