American Legacy Starts Review

BOSTON The American Legacy Foundation said it has hired consultancy Pile and Co. here to conduct a review of its media buying chores. And a client representative confirmed that a competition for creative duties would follow, though no timetable has been set for that contest, which could still be several months away from starting up.

The buying assignment has been handled by Media Head in New York for the past four years. Media Head, an independent, succeeded Havas-owned MPG on the business in early 2003.

Media Head will defend, according to a representative at Pile.

“It is customary for us to periodically assess the work of our agencies through competitive reviews and this is what we are doing now with our media buying function,” said Eric Asche, Legacy’s svp, marketing.

The client spent $25 million in the first three quarters of 2006 on its anti-smoking campaign after spending slightly more than $35 million in all of 2005, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Those numbers are way down from 2004, when Legacy spent $70 million on ads. Spending crested at more than $90 million in both 2002 and 2003.

Even so, Legacy is a high-profile client that has provided a consistently award-winning creative showcase for its agency partners.

Havas’ Arnold in Boston and MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami are Legacy’s lead creative shops, fashioning its frequently controversial “Truth” campaign. Omnicom Group’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas, also works on Legacy creative assignments.

Legacy’s most recent work from Arnold and CP+B recently debuted [Adweek Online, Jan. 10]. It shows body parts in New York garbage cans. On-screen text reads, “Every month, tobacco kills more people than there are trash cans in NYC.”

As its ad budget dwindled, Legacy has attempted more creative uses of media in its battle against Big Tobacco. For example, the foundation last summer aired a six-part weekly TV series, Warped: Inside & Out on the Fuse cable network.

Playing off Legacy’s orange “Truth” truck (which appears in some of its ads), the client billed the branded-entertainment program as “an alternative to the 30-second spot.” The show chronicled, in documentary fashion, a cutting-edge music and extreme sports festival. Each episode integrated Legacy’s “Truth” brand by featuring the foundation’s signature truck and crew members, who engaged teens first-hand on the dangers of smoking and the marketing tactics that cigarette companies use.

This story updates an item post earlier today with the news that Legacy also plans to review creative chores.