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Martin Wins Laser Eye Centers

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The Martin Agency has captured the marketing account of TLC Laser Eye Centers.

The Richmond, Va., shop won the Mississauga, Ontario-based business in a review against two undisclosed agencies. TLC parted from previous incumbent Adworks in 1999. The Washington, D.C., shop did project work during 2000, but did not participate in the review.

"One of the most critical parts of our business plan involves identifying, educating and motivating prospective patients to choose TLC as the best and safest alternative for their laser eye surgery," said Jay Peters, client executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Of the agencies we reviewed, Martin had the best record of building brands with truly integrated communications plans."

Initial work includes developing an integrated communications plan using advertising, interactive, direct mail, call center and database marketing. Martin will also perform media buys.

Billings are undisclosed. Spending for 2000 was $2.6 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Creative was not a part of the review.

"We recommended how we would construct ways to use all the disciplines," said agency partner and director of account management Brad Armstrong. "They wanted an agency that understands the complexities of the consumer relationship model."

In its client pitch, Martin partnered with Cyber Dialogue. The New York-based provider of technology and analytical services will add database management and warehousing services support.

"A piece of the campaign is about getting inquiries," said Armstrong. "How the data is handled and used to create and maintain relationships with patients is key to its success."

Creative executions expected in the third quarter include television, radio and print. Armstrong stressed different markets will have different needs and solutions.

Whatever shape the campaign takes, golf superstar Tiger Woods will participate. Woods signed a multi-year marketing agreement with TLC after having his vision corrected in October 1999.

"We've got to figure out how best to take advantage of his success stories," said Armstrong.

TLC's 58 North American centers have performed more than 300,000 surgeries. Lower priced services competing with TLC have forced down the average cost of the Lasek surgery to $1,940, a 6.6 percent decrease from last year.