American Legacy Eyes Pile for Creative Review

BOSTON — The American Legacy Foundation expects to hire consultancy Pile and Co. to oversee the upcoming review for at least the creative portion of its national anti-smoking account, according to client evp, marketing and communications Chris Cullen.

Cullen will meet with Pile executives in Boston next week and expects to sign a contract at that time, he said.

Legacy must place the account’s creative duties, now handled by Havas’ Arnold in Boston and Maxxcom’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami, in review next year due to an arrangement with the Washington group’s board to conduct an evaluation every five years.

“Our good friends at Arnold and Crispin are not only vigorously invited to participate, but walk into the process buoyed by the success of the ‘Truth’ campaign,” Cullen said. Agencies with tobacco clients cannot participate, and Legacy has yet to finalize an ad budget, he said.

Legacy spent about $100 million on ads in 2000, but spending dropped to approximately $60 million last year as the group sought to conserve funds. Legacy in April will receive the last of five $300 million payments Big Tobacco pledged under the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement. Through savings and investment, Legacy said it has set aside $584 million to extend the “Truth” campaign once the settlement payments end. [Adweek, Sept. 23].

To be determined next week, Cullen said, is whether media duties now with Havas’ Arnold MPG will also be reviewed. Legacy recently launched what Cullen called an internal “audit” designed to find ways to make its media functions run more efficiently. [Adweek, Nov. 11]. Cullen said he has already talked to at least 12 media companies or industry experts, including executives with Aegis Group’s Carat and Interpublic Group’s Initiative. Those are the two major media players other than MPG that don’t have conflicting tobacco clients.

A full-blown media review may not develop given the shortage of non-conflicted agencies, sources said. If media is not reviewed, Pile may assist Legacy with re-negotiating Arnold MPG’s contract or help it find other media-related efficiencies, sources said.