Sun International Resorts moved its $8 million Atlantis Resort & Casino account from Harris Drury Cohen (HDC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to California's Ground Zero last week, the client confirmed.
"Ground Zero clearly understood the essence of the [Atlantis] brand," said Howard Karawan, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sun International Resorts in Fort Lauderdale, owner of the Paradise Island, Bahamas, resort.
Ground Zero in Santa Monica, Calif., bested incumbent HDC, Miami's Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Open Minds in Laguna Beach, Calif.
Curiously, Karawan never visited either California contender during the review. "We're big on videoconferencing," he explained.
Ground Zero's first assignment is to target the travel trade and yacht owners. The next task will be creating a television campaign to run this summer on cable and in spot markets including New York, Miami, Chicago and Boston, Karawan said.
While HDC held the account, ad spending was a fraction of what Sun plans to spend in 1998.
"It was a good three years, and we did some incredible work that led to an Effie award," said HDC partner Stan Harris. "We were sad to see them go, but we anticipated the possibility and we won't be laying anyone off."
Karawan dismissed reports that the relationship between Sun and HDC deteriorated after agency co-creative director Mike Tesch took a leave of absence [Adweek, Feb. 9].
Sun is spending about $500 million to expand Atlantis. Set for completion by year-end, the property's theme will center on the mythical underwater city of Atlantis. Themed features will include five marine life lagoons and The Dig, a labyrinth of rooms and corridors offering visitors "stolen moments of Atlantean life," per company literature.--with Nora FitzGerald and Angela Dawso