MapQuest Finds Match in TBWA\C\D

LOS ANGELES MapQuest has assigned its first creative and media duties to Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, said officers of the Internet-based mapping and directions service today.

Though MapQuest’s marketers contacted several undisclosed agencies, there was no formal review, sources said.

Located in Dulles, Va., the subsidiary of America Online services as many as 35 million users per month, said Tommy McGloin, svp and general manager. “We’ve done no advertising in the past,” he said. “Our position was to build a great product first. One of several reasons we were attracted to Chiat was the brand value that we’ve already built: We needed to be trusting of the integrity of the process surrounding our brand and brand expression. We like their insistence on truth in expressing the brand.”

McGloin said he was particularly impressed by how the agency worked with Apple during its transition from desktop to mobile devices. He said MapQuest’s service is likely headed in a similar direction as the franchise extends to smart phones and other portable gear. McGloin said MapQuest needed “stewardship and guidance from experts” during this phase and that the company had grown to the point where it could now afford to advertise.

There are no firm plans for the scope of the assignment, said James Vincent, managing director of TBWA\Chiat\Day Worldwide. “We love brands that stand for something,” he said. “MapQuest provides a great utility for people in their everyday lives. There’s no fabrication necessary; it’s the real thing. They did great for eight years without our help. Now we’ll try to create a simple, iconic, big-feeling brand message that’s true to the reality of experience people have on MapQuest.”

Other significant 2004 wins for TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, Calif., include Pedigree Global ($140 million), two Sara Lee brands ($60 million), Limited Too ($15 million) and a Pepsi assignment estimated at $20-25 million. A source projected the MapQuest ad spend as $15 million in its first year.