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Six Flags Staying Put

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Initiative Partners' successful defense of the Six Flags media account will bring the agency additional duties that are expected to increase the account budget from $50 million to $80 million, sources said.

The agency, a unit of Interpublic Group's Initiative Media North America, based in Los Angeles, retained the business it has handled for eight years in partnership with Six Flags creative shop Ackerman McQueen in Oklahoma City. The review's other finalists were WPP Group's MindShare, Aegis Group's Carat and Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media, all in New York.

"We expect to be doing more for them," said Initiative Worldwide CEO Alec Gerster. "It will involve a wide array, including local media."

Gerster said the client and Ackerman McQueen, which managed the review, "put us through the paces with a thorough and deep process."

Peggy Ackerman, evp and corporate media director for the creative shop, confirmed that "spending will be higher," but declined to elaborate.

The review, which began in September, presented some uncertainly for Initiative. The client had been expected to seek cost-cutting measures in the face of a drop in attendance at its 39 venues worldwide. That drop included an 11 percent decline in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2001, and a revenue dip of $9 million in that period, to $348 million.

Also, sources said the review was tied to Ackerman McQueen's efforts to reassess its vendor relationships and examine its media resources.

"This was particularly gratifying because of the tough competition we were up against," said Gerster.