Country Music Association hires MS&L as first AOR

NASHVILLE, TN: The Country Music Association (CMA) hired MS&L as its first AOR in the organization's 50-year history, effective September 9, after a competitive pitch.

NASHVILLE, TN: The Country Music Association (CMA) hired MS&L as its first AOR in the organization's 50-year history, effective September 9, after a competitive pitch. The agency will work with CMA on entertainment marketing, branding, and sponsorship opportunities, said Dan Bowen, VP of strategic marketing and communications for CMA.

"We have our own marketing sections of CMA and also PR and communications, so what [the MS&L] team brings to the table is the ability to be a little more far-reaching with all of those efforts," Bowen said, mentioning the agency will also help on day-to-day communications, digital outreach, and consumer insight matters.

The goal of hiring MS&L, he said, was to continue to expand the CMA's base of fans, secure strong business partners, and grow the overall brand. Bowen emphasized that the internal communications team at CMA is unchanged due to the hire, and would work side-by-side with the agency.

"We put together a management team that consists of several people from the entertainment marketing group, but also an account team leader," said Bruce MacKenzie, SVP of entertainment marketing for MS&L. The agency also hired Sheri Warnke, formerly the regional sales manager at Playboy Enterprises, to serve as VP of strategic partnerships at MS&L, based full-time in CMA's Nashville headquarters.

The agency's first projects include the CMA Awards in November and the CMA Music Festival in 2010, and Warnke is currently planning a marketing summit to be held in conjunction with the awards.

CMA put out a formal RFP in the spring and MS&L was chosen out of a group of fewer than six agencies. Bowen declined to disclose the other agencies in the pitch, as well as the financial details of the account.

"We were impressed with everybody we saw, but as far as depth of capability, it came down to us looking at what was going to be best for us in terms of not only the capability, but the value to CMA," Bowen said. "And they had the most complete package."

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