VML Named to Alamo, National Car Rental Accounts

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VML Inc. has been named interactive agency of record by ANC Rental Corp. for its Alamo Rent a Car and National Car Rental brands.

The agency was among three finalists that pitched for the ANC business, including Digital Edge, New York, and Ant Farm Interactive, Atlanta. The incumbent on the account was Paradigm Interactive, Atlanta. Billings were not disclosed.

As agency for ANC, VML will work on online media planning and execution for the Alamo and National Car Rental brands. The goal is to ramp up online transactions and bookings via the Web.

"Our initial assignment is to develop a very proactive and interactive marketing plan for 2001," said Jon Cook, vice president of account management at VML, Kansas City, MO. "Success in online marketing is one of their major objectives in 2001."

The ANC win comes soon after Payless.com, the online arm of Payless ShoeSource Inc., named VML interactive agency of record.

An 8-year-old agency, VML reported billings last fiscal year of $108 million, specializing in integrating traditional offline marketing with online. Clients include H&R Block, Bayer Corp., BigFatWow Inc., Sprint Corp., Wiredinn.com and American Express Corp.

VML said its prior experience in handling a travel account, Northwest Airlines, helped to clinch the ANC business for Alamo and National. Northwest was a VML Minneapolis client in the late 1990s. The agency stopped work on the account after it sold the Minneapolis office to Carmichael Lynch in 1998.

ANC, Fort Lauderdale, FL, last year reported revenue of $3.5 billion. It faces stiff competition from rivals Hertz Corp., Budget Rent a Car, Enterprise and Avis Rent a Car.

But unlike those players, ANC boasts two national brands that target different market segments.

"While both have a dual audience, Alamo tends to be more of a consumer one, while National skews to a business audience," VML's Cook said. "We look forward to working with ANC to broaden their audience base."

The Alamo brand serves leisure, business, neighborhood and insurance replacement customers through 109 locations in the United States and Canada and another 400 in Europe and Latin America.

National, on the other hand, is positioned as a more premium offering to business and leisure travelers. It rents cars at nearly 250 airport-serving locations in the United States and at more than 3,000 spots in 65 countries worldwide.

VML's task is to drive traffic to the Web sites for both companies and to migrate customers to book online.

"I think the vision really is to take advantage of partnerships, creative messaging, smart use of search engines and online relationships that ANC already has," Cook said.

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