McCann-Erickson's Jim Walker got an unexpected call last Monday from none other than American Family Publishers spokesman Ed McMahon.
"When my assistant said it was Ed on the line, I thought she meant our planning director [Ed Cotton]," said the Seattle shop's managing/creative director. "No," he was told. "It's Ed McMahon."
McMahon was calling to congratulate Walker and the agency on winning American Family Publishers' estimated $12 million account. McCann bested mostly New York shops, including fellow finalists DeVito/Verdi and Mad Dogs & Englishmen, in a three-month review.
McCann's task will be to overhaul the tarnished image of the giant Jersey City, N.J., magazine subscription marketer. The company has faced several lawsuits in the last year alleging misleading wording in its mailings.
The agency has been given the green light to develop one of the creative concepts presented during the pitch, said Walker, who declined to discuss details. The initial ad campaign is scheduled to break Dec. 21 to support this year's $11 million grand prize award.
The client was drawn to McCann because of its celebrated work for the Washington State Lottery, said a company representative. Company president Susan Caughman said McCann won on the strength of its "creative strengths and innovative ideas."
The pitch team included Walker, account management director Ken Willner, media director Sheryl Hudson, planning director Ed Cotton and creative directors John Schofield and Kurt Reifschneider. Willner will head up the account; Kelli Koenig is the account supervisor.