Advertising agency McKinney is being reunited with one of its most memorable marketing creations.
Travelocity, the Internet-based travel site, is reuniting with Durham-based McKinney in a deal announced Thursday. The fact the two firms have agreed to work together again is a rarity in the business, noted industry insider AdAge.
That means The Roaming Gnome, which McKinney created for Travelocity in late 2003, is returning to his roots after a two-year separation in which Travelocity was represented by another firm.
The news is the second major development for McKinney, which was sold last week to Cheil Worldwide for a reported $50 million.
“The Roaming Gnome is coming home,” said Brad Brinegar, McKinney’s chairman and chief executive officer.
“From the moment he was nabbed from the garden in 2004 and taken on a ski trip booked by Travelocity, to the launch of the online travel industry’s first guarantee, the Travelocity Guarantee, it has been McKinney’s mission to help establish Travelocity as a trusted brand that stands for great travel experiences. We can’t wait to create more talked-about work with them.”
The win is a “big one,” McKinney’s Janet Northen, directory of agency communications, told WRAL news.
McKinney worked with Travelocity from 2003-2009.
While financial terms were not disclosed, AdAge reported that Travelocity spent some $80 million in advertising in 2009.
Travelocity and McKinney split in 2010 with Publicis winning the account. Over the past two years, however, Travelocity drastically cut ad spending to $47 million in 2010 and $55 million a year ago, according to AdAge.
As part of the deal with Traveloicty, McKinney will provide branding and communications services.
“McKinney’s passion for our brand and love of The Roaming Gnome is unquestioned,” said Brad Wilson, Travelocity’s chief marketing officer. “We are looking forward to tapping into their creative and strategic thinking immediately as we continue to tell our story to travelers.”
McKinney, which launched in 1969, boasts a client list including Nationwide Insurance, Nationwide Financial, CenturyLink, Sherwin-Williams, Mizuno USA, Gold’s Gym, Meijer, Ruby Tuesday, Big Boss Brewing and Urban Ministries of Durham.