By Katy Eckmann
ATLANTA--After parting ways with The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., KinderCare Learning Centers, the nation's largest provider of children's care, awarded its fall branding campaign to SlaughterHanson in Birmingham, Ala.
The $2 million fall project is part of KinderCare's annual ad budget of about $9 million. The Montgomery, Ala.-based client, which last month said it will relocate its headquarters to Portland, Ore., has yet to assign its entire ad account to an agency.
Martin worked on the account for over two years. 'Our (KinderCare) contract was up on Feb. 15,' said agency official Dean Jarrett, who characterized the split as amicable.
'A lot of the people we had relationships with are not moving with the company,' Jarrett said, adding, 'They let us do good work. It was a neat experience.'
KinderCare would not comment on the parting with Martin. However, sources said it used Montgomery's Davenport Moorhead for winter 1996 and spring/summer 1997 campaigns.
For the fall job, KinderCare held a quiet review of SlaughterHanson and undisclosed agencies in Dallas, Atlanta, Mobile, Ala., and in 'one of the Carolinas,' said a source.
SlaughterHanson vice president of marketing Bernie Butler sees the KinderCare assignment as a way for the shop to grow.
'We want to be a great agency . . . With (KinderCare), we get the chance to do great work,' Butler said.
The agency will attempt to boost KinderCare's enrollment via print ads in June and July issues of magazines like Women's Day and Parents, and through a direct mail program. The firm has not done national image advertising in about two years.
SlaughterHanson's current creative work impressed Kinder-Care, said client acting director of marketing Kim Lambert, who recently replaced marketing director Thomas Johnson. She likely will not move with the company to Portland.
What happens to KinderCare's advertising account next remains up in the air. Last month's relocation announcement came on the heels of KinderCare's merger with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., which became KinderCare's majority shareholder. The firm is undergoing an executive reorganization.
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED