Opryland Dumps Buntin for YPB

ATLANTA-The Opryland Hospitality and Attractions Group has shifted its ad account from The Buntin Group to travel and tourism specialist Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown.
The change comes only eight months after Nashville, Tenn.-based Buntin won the account for Opryland, a multifaceted entertainment and lodging complex built around the Grand Ole Opry and owned by Gaylord Entertainment, also in Nashville. Buntin defeated five other contenders, including YPB in Orlando, Fla., and previous incumbent Ericson Marketing Communications in Nashville.
However, the scope of the business has changed dramatically in those eight months, said Jerry Wayne, Opryland’s senior vice president of marketing. The company has decided to expand the brand and open similarly themed Opryland hotels near Orlando and in Grapevine, Tex. The expanded assignment is worth slightly more than $5 million, according to one source.
“We wanted a partner in the hotel advertising business who could help us grow in the opening process,” said Wayne. “At the time we hired Buntin, we had not finalized the concept of expanding our hotels. We felt . . . we needed to get a jump start with somebody who’s been through that process.”
Buntin pitched to hold on to the Nashville hotel’s business, “but we just felt the economy was not there for having more than one agency,” Wayne said. MMG Worldwide of Kansas City, Mo., was a finalist for the expanded assignment, sources said.
YPB principal Peter Yesawich said his agency stayed in touch with Opryland even after it had given its business to Buntin “because we wanted to handle [the Orlando] project. But by then, they had decided to reopen the entire review.”
Several sources close to the pitch process said there had been friction between Buntin and the client, a claim president Jeffery Buntin did not deny.
“We had issues, they had issues,” Buntin said. “They were looking for somebody with a little more industry influence, and we were looking for a little more profitability.” ƒ