Family Focus Wins Doner Six Flags

Doner won Six Flags’ $90 million global media and creative account last week with a strategy based on a character who appeals to kids, teens and moms, sources said.

The idea will “probably be expressed as a real person who can become an icon for the brand” and unite Six Flags’ 39 attractions, one source said.

Southfield, Mich.-based Doner bested the incumbent, independent Ackerman McQueen in Oklahoma City, as well as Publicis Groupe’s Fallon, Minneapolis, and Interpublic Group’s Deutsch/LA, Marina del Rey, Calif. CEO Alan Kalter declined to discuss the strategy Doner pitched but said, “It’s a chance to establish a brand where there hasn’t been one.”

One source said Doner won in “every dimension” of the review: creative, strategy and media. Six Flags declined comment.

The shop inherits an account suffering from the poor economy as well as a season of bad weather. Six Flags’ year-to-date attendance is down 4 percent from last year. In 2002, Six Flags accounted for 18 percent of attendance at the top 50 U.S. theme parks, ranking second behind The Walt Disney Co. at 32 percent, according to Amusement Business (owned by Adweek parent VNU).

Six Flags was Ackerman’s largest client, representing more than a third of its estimated $250 million in billings and about 6 percent of revenue. The shop has laid off 45 staffers and will close its five-person Brussels office.