Martin Vies for Nickelodeon

Cable Network’s Brand Stewardship Is on the Line
NEW YORK–The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., is one of six agencies in contention for Nickelodeon’s estimated $15 million branding account, sources said.
Other contenders include Young & Rubicam, Fallon McElligott and DiNoto Lee, all New York, and Arnold Communications, Boston. New York-based Nickelodeon is also said to be considering an undisclosed shop.
Last July, Martin won the $8-10 million creative business of Nickelodeon’s sister cable network, Nick at Night/TV Land, over an initial field of 25 agencies.
Contenders with a TV and/or kids’ products branding background include Y&R (Mattel), Fallon (FAO Schwarz) and DiNoto (CNN). Arnold has little experience with media clients, though its Wickersham Hunt Schwantner unit creates ads for MediaOne.
Agencies were briefed last week and will present creative and strategic concepts late next month. A decision is expected in late April or early May. Ruth Sarlin, vice president of brand and franchise marketing at Nickelodeon, is managing the review.
Martin chairman and chief executive John Adams said his agency had been invited because the client “[was] happy with the work we’d done with TV Land.” He added that when Martin won that business, there were intimations “it could lead to something else . . . you always want to earn your way.”
Nickelodeon, which talked to more than a dozen agencies [Adweek, March 1], could not be reached at press time. The unit of Viacom’s MTV Networks plans a major branding effort as competition heats up between kids’ programmers. Its chief rivals are Fox Family Channel and Kids’ WB.
“It’s a question of putting a stake in the ground . . . starting to take ownership in what they created,” a source said. The network had created its ads internally, working with agencies on a project basis. The winner of this review, however, would become Nickelodeon’s brand steward. Media duties, now at Western Initiative Media Worldwide, may also shift. –with T.W. Siebert