MGM may hire new ad agency

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer may hire a new advertising agency by year-end as part of an ongoing evaluation of the studio’s marketing functions following management changes.

Worldwide marketing executive vice president Bob Dingilian said the studio is reviewing its nine-year relationship with Wells, Rich, Greene/BDDP in a bid to make sure it is spending its media dollars strategically and efficiently.

WRG/BDDP, which strictly buys media for the studio, as opposed to supplying creative or research services, will be included in the competition.

Sources said the ad agency review is part of a larger studio effort to scrutinize all aspects of its business. At the direction of Credit Lyonnais, MGM’s owner and lender, MGM reportedly has hired management consultant McKinsey & Co. to evaluate the studio’s relationships with vendors and supplier of support services. The aim is to ensure that the still-financially shaky MGM spends its money in the most efficient way possible.

Studio officials said they did not want to comment on the role of McKinsey & Co.

Numerous ad agencies in the hard-hit L.A. ad arena have expressed interest in taking on the MGM account, and the studio expects to pick a list of finalists shortly. Sources say the studio expects to make a decision between Dec. 15 and Dec. 31.

The selection of a new ad agency would be the latest in a string of changes in the MGM marketing department that followed the departure of worldwide marketing president Greg Morrison in a long-rumored department shake-up (Daily Variety, June 10). There was speculation at the time the studio would scrutinize its relationship with Wells.

After Morrison left, the studio restructured its marketing and advertising departments, hiring former Orion Pictures senior VP of advertising Tami Masuda as exec VP (Daily Variety, July 20). Dingilian was shifted to oversee all pub-promo and field activity for the company’s feature film division.

A few weeks ago, the studio named Cathy O’Gorman veep of creative advertising , replacing Tina Tannen (Daily Variety, Oct. 27).

Trying to rebound with the assistance of Credit Lyonnais, the studio has been on a drive to strengthen the marketing support its films receive.

In the competitive world of movie marketing, MGM has struggled to convince exhibitors to run its trailers, and with few releases in the last two years its media expenditures have been dwarfed by big-spending studio competitors.

The studio does not have a Christmas film, but plans to release “Body of Evidence” in January.

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