Carat Opens Media Hub in Atlanta

Churchs Chicken Win Leads to an Expanded Southern Network
ATLANTA–Carat Global Media will establish a full-service office here this week to handle a growing list of area clients.
Carat, which calls itself the largest independent media services agency in North America, with annual U.S. billings of $1.6 billion, is expanding its Southeast presence partly in response to its recent win of the $15 million media portion of the Churchs Chicken account [Adweek, Aug. 9].
Other accounts that will be handled from Atlanta include Mentos, Club Med and Werther’s Candies, which were previously serviced through Carat’s New York office.
Arthur Kennedy, 49, will direct the office as executive vice president and general manager, a post he held at Carat in New York. Kennedy, an Arkansas native, was an original partner at MBS in New York, which was acquired by Carat in 1996.
Rick Vosk joins Kennedy as vice president and client group manager.
Carat’s Memphis, Tenn., office will remain open, but its vice president and account supervisor, Randy Washburn, will now report to Atlanta. Washburn will continue to focus on new business development in the Southeast as he splits his time between the two locations. With the new outpost, Carat will operate from 10 offices in the U.S.
The Atlanta and Memphis offices will have combined billings of more than $100 million, Kennedy said, with the Georgia site handling roughly 60 percent of the business. Key Memphis media accounts include Re/Max, Hard Rock Cafe and Carson Products Co.
Carat wants to hire between 10 and 20 people for the new operation, Kennedy said, and may transfer a few media buyers from Memphis to Atlanta. Staffing is still “a flexible number,” he added.
David Verklin, chief executive officer at Carat, said the new office will enable the firm to pay “very close attention to our new Churchs account” and grow its client base within the next six months.
When the media company was pitching Churchs, the client “didn’t say that [opening an office in Atlanta] was a condition, but we said we were going to do it and I’m sure it made a difference,” Kennedy said. Carat had considered opening an office in Miami, but decided Atlanta was a better choice, he said.
Austin Kelley Advertising in Atlanta had performed Churchs’ creative and media chores for 19 months. Creative duties were awarded to Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York.
Atlanta is also home to Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Western Initiative Media Worldwide, whose 120-person office serves the likes of Aamco, Home Depot and BellSouth.
Carat, a unit of the London-based Aegis Group, serves more than 400 U.S. clients, including America Online, CBS Television, First USA, Alberto-Culver and Gillette.