M/Z Teams Up With EarthLink

By besting several Southern California shops for EarthLink’s business last week, Mendelsohn/Zien may have picked up its largest account ever.
Although the pitch was initially presented as a $2-3 million “test” project, sources said the Internet service provider could spend $50 million or more on a national ad effort to challenge larger competitors such as AT&T and America Online.
“We discussed with the agencies during the presentations what the budgets could be, but we’re not at a stage where we can say [an exact figure],” said John Lake, EarthLink’s director of marketing. M/Z president Richard Zien also declined to comment on the budget.
Earlier this year, Sprint bought a 28 percent stake in Pasadena, Calif.-based EarthLink and is backing the ambitious ad strategy, said sources. EarthLink went public last year and spent just under $2 million on ads, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Lake cited M/Z’s strategic thinking and understanding of EarthLink’s business issues as reasons for the agency’s selection. “We want to build this brand so that it is second to none in the marketplace,” Zien said.
Los Angeles-based M/Z won the business over BBDO West, Los Angeles; Ground Zero, Santa Monica; and Team One Advertising, El Segundo. Previous ads had been handled in-house. The search was conducted by consultancy Select Resources International, Los Angeles.
M/Z reports $90 million in billings, mostly from its Carl’s Jr. and BMW North America Western Region accounts.