‘Penthouse’ Narrows Search to 5 Shops

NEW YORK Five New York agencies are competing to handle creative and media duties on Penthouse, as the magazine seeks to soften its image and broaden its appeal among consumers and media buyers alike.

The finalists are Publicis Groupe-backed Droga5 and independents Sugartown Creative, DiNoto, Modco and AKA, according to Brian Martin of Source Martin, a New York consultancy that is managing the review.

The shops have been briefed and will make creative presentations early next month, Martin said. A decision is expected in November.

Penthouse is seeking a consumer-directed campaign that will reach its core target: men in their 20s to early 30s, said Diane Silberstein, president and publisher at the magazine’s parent company, Penthouse Magazine Group. The first work will break in early February.

The initial budget is limited—about $500,000, according to Silberstein—but the contenders were drawn by the opportunity to work on an iconic brand. Silberstein also attributed agency interest to what she described as a “curiosity factor.”

Key decision makers at the client include Silberstein, who is based in New York; Tricia Austin, vp of marketing at Penthouse Media Group in Boca Raton, Fla.; and the magazine’s new editor-in-chief, Mark Healy, a former articles editor at GQ who starts Oct. 30.

The search is Martin’s first job since opening his consultancy this month. Previously, he was director of business development at WPP Group’s JWT in New York, which he left in July.

Earlier in his career, Martin held senior posts at Bozell and Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners. He also was a partner in a brand consultancy called Eggtooth (along with Ty Montague) and CEO of Qtopics, an online consumer polling company.

Source Martin will work with marketers on several fronts, including agency searches, media planning audits, creative shop evaluations and agency compensation deals. In addition, Martin, 46, will advise marketers on how to more effectively and efficiently use multiple roster shops.