BETHESDA, MD: JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts hired Harrison & Shriftman as its first global AOR, following a competitive bid.
The Marriott International luxury brand, which plans to open a number of locations in the US and abroad, will work with the agency on PR, branding, partnerships, events, and sponsorship opportunities for the corporate brand and individual locations.
“We hadn't really had a strong focus in terms of outside support for the brand,” said Gordon Lambourne, SVP of global PR for Marriott International. “We're looking to expand our PR into more of an opportunity for branding and additional access in a different and less traditional approach to PR.”
The brand approached several agencies with an RFI late in 2009 and narrowed it down to three to four agencies in the RFP process, he noted. The brand's in-house team had previously worked with regional agencies on location-based PR projects.
“Harrison & Shriftman bought to the table great skills in publicity and media, but also in branding,” said Lambourne.
Ian Schrager Company, which worked with the agency in Miami, recommended Harrison & Shriftman, said Elizabeth Harrison, principal at the agency. The win signifies the agency's ongoing strategy to diversity its portfolio beyond fashion and lifestyle.
“In the last five years, we've really made a concerted effort to get seriously into travel and real estate,” said Harrison. “When we sold the agency to Omnicom [six years ago], one of my main objectives was to be seen as a more serious agency and one that could really do strategy, branding, and positioning.”
The agency is currently working with the team on developing strategy and messaging, as well as looking into global partnerships for property launches. The deal is a year-long contract, which began in the first quarter of 2009, with a monthly retainer.