Martin, Champion Mortgage Part Ways

ATLANTA— An executive at Champion Mortgage said the company has not placed its estimated $12 million advertising account in review. Marjorie Trautman, Champion’s vice president of organizational performance, said the firm was happy with current campaigns from The Martin Agency, which resigned the account last week. The split, which was followed by the abrupt departure of chief marketing officer Mark Benson on the same day, was coincidental, according to Trautman. “The two events are not related,” she said. Martin’s resignation of the account, which it held for two years, was followed the same day by agency layoffs. Nineteen employees at the Interpublic Group shop’s Richmond, Va., and New York offices were laid off, about 6 percent of the agency’s workforce. Nearly half of those staffers worked on the Champion account, sources said. Recent campaigns included television, radio, print and direct mail under the tagline, “Champion says yes.” Previous television commercials for the Parsippany, N.J.-based money lender were created by Richman Films, a New York production house. Champion is owned by KeyBank USA of Cleveland.

Carton Donofrio Wins Thinq Learning

ATLANTA—Thinq Learning Solutions has hired Carton Donofrio Partners as its lead advertising agency, the client confirmed. The Baltimore agency claimed the account following a review against crosstown co-finalistCornerstone Advertising. Incumbent gkv communications, also in Baltimore, participated in the review. Sources estimated annual billings at $3-4 million.The decision comes as the instructional software developer completes the relocation of its headquarters from Billerica, Mass., to Baltimore.

Fountainhead Teams With K.C. Agency

CHICAGO—Barkley Evergreen & Partners has opened an Atlanta outpost, called 8th & Means, staffed primarily by former employees of Fountainhead. The new agency will be operated independently from BE&P in Kansas City, Mo., though the parent will provide media, promotional, interactive and sports marketing expertise when appropriate. Fountainhead president and creative director David Coston will continue at 8th & Means in the same capacity. The shop’s primary clients are National Vision, which operates optical centers in Wal-Mart stores, and the Atlanta Bread Co. restaurant chain.

Baltimore Shops Bid for Maryland Business

ATLANTA—Contenders have emerged in the review for Maryland’s $35 million tourism and business development advertising accounts. Five Baltimore agencies have submitted bids, according to state officials. The agencies answering the bell are five-year incumbent Trahan, Burden & Charles, Carton Donofrio & Partners,Eisner Communications, gkv advertising and The Campbell Group. Because Maryland has separated its tourism and business development advertising accounts, each with its own target audience, it is possible that two agencies could be selected, sources said. The contract will be in effect for three years, with two one-year renewable options. A final decision is expected in March.