Real Estate Co. to Focus on N.Y. Shops

Mills Corp., which develops and manages retail and entertainment properties, will focus on New York shops with proven integrated marketing abilities in its search for a new ad agency, according to the client’s top marketing executive.

Mills split with Doner, Southfield, Mich., last week after putting its estimated $4 million account into review. Doner CEO Alan Kalter said the shop had strategic and financial differences with the Arlington, Va.-based client.

Lee Volk, client svp of marketing, said Mills let Doner go because the company’s needs had changed due to growth.

Volk said Mills seeks an agency that will “not only help us with the creative but the strategic approach, how we position our properties in the marketplace.”

The review, which includes creative and media, is being handled by consultant Lee Rafkin of Rafkin & Co. in Maplewood, N.J. Volk said he has set Nov. 1 as a target date for hiring a new agency.

Volk joined the company last fall from the Simon Property Group, where he worked with Publicis in Indianapolis.

Mills spent $4 million on media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/ CMR. Volk said spending will increase as seven new properties are added to the company’s portfolio.

Mills owns, develops, leases, manages and markets 24 retail and entertainment properties in 17 states.

Doner’s work includes a campaign touting the “Mills Effect” for the client’s shopping malls in 12 states. The agency’s last effort for the client will be back-to-school ads that break next month, Kalter said.

Prior to his tenure at Simon, Volk was a marketing executive at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J. Mills is working with the Meadowlands to open a family-entertainment and recreation complex called Meadowlands Xanadu. Launching that will be among the new agency’s tasks, Volk said.