Tony Hotelier Selects Broadus, Fitzgerald, Sawyer, Leslie, Zimmerman as Semifinalists
ATLANTA--Five Southeast shops have emerged as semifinalists in the competition for the $5 million Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. advertising account, according to client corporate director of marketing Dan Collins.
That list includes three agencies located in Atlanta--Broadus & Associates, Fitzgerald & Co. and Sawyer Riley Compton--as well as Leslie Advertising Agency of Greenville, S.C.; and The Zimmerman Agency of Tallahassee, Fla.
Ritz-Carlton's incumbent advertising agency of more than a decade, Tausche Henderson Drake (THD) in Atlanta, opted not to participate in the review.
That shop will continue working on the luxury hotel account through the end of this year at the client's request. THD originally was to have finished its work on the Ritz-Carlton business by the end of this summer.
Because the review process is taking longer than anticipated, the incumbent may have been signed for an extended period, sources said.
"With all [the client] has going on right now, it may just be a matter of not being able to get all the right people in the room at the same time," said one agency executive.
According to the client's request for proposal, the targeted decision date for naming a new agency was Aug. 15. It now appears it will be closer to the end of the month before a new shop is chosen.
Collins said the client remains committed to wrapping the review by the end of August and naming a new agency by Sept. 1. He added that the five agencies had "chemistry visits" at Ritz headquarters last week, and each will make presentations the week of Aug. 17. The company will then visit all five for final presentations. There may be an extra round, he said.
Nearly all five hopefuls still in contention have travel and/or hospitality experience on their account resumƒs. Two agencies in particular, Fitzgerald and Zimmerman, are already working for hotel properties under the umbrella of the Marriott Corp., which has assumed an ownership stake in the Ritz-Carlton operation.
According to the request for proposal, the client is looking at two audiences: those who stay at the luxury hotel in keeping with their upscale lifestyle and the "aspirational" guest who sees the Ritz-Carlton as a special occasion splurge. With those targeted demographics, the client is intent on maintaining its brand's image.
"The primary focus of our advertising is directed at the consumer," according to the questionnaire. "This is to keep 'top of mind' awareness for [the hotel's] consumer. We also need to create trial from aspirational customers."
After a 12-year relationship with the Ritz-Carlton, THD opted not to take on "a defensive posture," when it came to passing on the review.
"We've given them our best," said agency president and chief creative officer Kurt Tausche, when the account was put in play. "We did consistently award-winning work."
Most recently, the shop won a pair of Addys at the district level for its Ritz-Carlton print work. The bulk of the hotel's account involves print ads in consumer publications.
At the time the review began, Collins said the hotel chain's expanding global needs prompted the search. He added, however, that he was "very satisfied with what [THD] has done for us . . . we didn't want to change agencies."
Tausche Henderson Drake gained the Ritz-Carlton account in 1986, when the chain managed just three hotels. Since then, the client has grown to 32 owned or operated properties.
.....--with staff reports