AMF Bowling Rolls With Eisner

Eisner Communications has won AMF Bowling’s$10 million advertising account.

The agency rolled nothing but strikes in an informal review that began last summer when the Baltimore shop began courting the bowling and billiards equipment manufacturer.

“I’ve had my eyes on this account for a long time,” said Steve Eisner, agency president and chief executive officer. “We established a good rapport and when they let us know they’d be speaking to agencies all over the country, we went for it.”

The Richmond, Va.-based client quickly reduced the contenders to Eisner and co-finalist Suissa Miller in Los Angeles.

Incumbent The Richards Group in Dallas, which held the account since 1998, chose not to participate.

Eisner cited its experience with former hometown client Fair Lanes—since acquired and absorbed into AMF—as a critical factor in the account win.

The shop also had developed promotional materials for an industry umbrella organization, the National Bowling Council (now Strike Ten Entertainment) in Shelton, Conn.

“They [AMF] were struck by our strength in building brands and categories while building sales,” said Eisner, who emphasized his agency’s success with the Maryland Lottery to demonstrate the shop’s ability to stimulate growth in a mature category. “We need to build the AMF name without losing sight of the week-to-week retail nature of the industry.”

Jeff Stein, client director of marketing, pointed out other highlights of the winning pitch: “They exhibited the type of thoughtfully integrated approach we were looking to find, coupled with the experience, commitment and talent needed to drive our brand to new heights. Eisner will be a great benefit to us.”

Despite recent drops in revenue, the 100-year-old company continues to expand its bowling holdings by acquiring additional independent alleys as well as chain operations. AMF now owns more than 500 bowling venues worldwide.

Eisner’s campaign will break in late February. Print ads will appear in newspapers across the country, along with radio spots and point-of-sale displays. A second phase kicks off later this year. It will utilize national cable television spots to supplement and build upon the agency’s initial efforts.

“We’re working on making bowling relevant by driving up the sales associated with casual as well as league play,” said Eisner.