Sunday, October 5, 2003

The Peace Corps is calling for volunteers from all walks of life. The global volunteer agency, based in Washington, has kicked off a recruitment campaign to attract more Americans of all ages and backgrounds.

“We are definitely emphasizing greater diversity from retirees to ethnic [groups],” said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “We want the volunteers to represent a cross section of America.”

The public service campaign, created by BBDO Atlanta, uses the tag line “Life is calling. How far will you go?” and includes print, radio and television ads. Actors Matthew McConaughey and Eduardo Verastegui donated their time to record the voice-overs for the ads.

One print ad targets those over 50 years old.

“Do people tell you you’re over the hill?” the ad asks. “What if you were? Over the hill, over a stream and over an ocean. To another continent. Thousands of miles from your own. Where elders are looked to as leaders…”

“We want to break the stereotype that [the] only people who serve in the Peace Corps are younger,” Mr. Vasquez said.

The campaign is also supported by a new 15-minute recruitment video, a catalog, a booklet showcasing volunteers and a newly designed Web site.

The Peace Corps has more than 7,000 volunteers.

Baltimore firm files suit

A small Baltimore agency is suing “the world’s largest hotel chain.”

The Davis Media Group says Best Western International Inc. owes the firm $2.8 million in fees and commission after being terminated unexpectedly as the chain’s agency of record in the middle of last month.

Davis Media had worked on the $25 million annual advertising account since March 2001, incorporating the tag line “the world’s largest hotel chain” into its advertising. Best Western ended its agreement with the agency and has opened the account up for review.

“This isn’t about being terminated,” said James Astrachan, a lawyer representing the ad agency. “This is about failure to pay.”

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland on Sept. 23, says Best Western owes the agency $660,000 in fees, more than $13,000 in travel costs and more than $2 million in commission for media placements purchased for 2003 and 2004 campaigns.

Carolyn Marion, a spokeswoman for Best Western, said the company would not comment on pending litigation. She also would not give a reason for terminating Davis Media.

The company said it is considering a “shortlist” of agencies for the account and will have a decision in about three weeks.

New wins

• Reingold Inc. has won a $400,000 design contract from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Washington agency will design publications, outreach materials, marketing collateral and other documents for HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research.

• Merkle Direct Marketing Inc., based in Lanham, won a three-year contract with the Arthritis Foundation.

• Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other Monday.

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