American Legacy Shifts $50 Million Media Assignment To Assembly

In December of 2013, American Legacy Foundation selected WPP’s MediaCom as its new media agency, after what the foundation described as “a comprehensive review.”

At the time, American Legacy CMO Eric Asche gushed: “Going toe-to-toe with Big Tobacco constantly requires innovation and ingenuity, and MediaCom delivers big on both…We’ve often said that combating youth smoking is a David versus Goliath fight; we depend heavily on great partners that help us battle for market share — or hearts and minds — among our youth audience. 

"Through our review, MediaCom brought so much to bear, demonstrating a deep bench, forward thinking and synergistic relationships. We couldn’t ask for a better partner as we head into what we hope will truly be a historic effort to kick-start social norm change around youth tobacco use in the coming year.”



What a difference a year makes. MediaCom is gone and the client has tapped MDC’s Assembly as its media agency, this time without a comprehensive review.The shift follows Legacy’s selection of 72andSunny, also an MDC agency, as its creative shop in March of last year.

According to sources MediaCom resigned the account after 72andSunny devised a campaign last year designed to ignite controversy, even lawsuits from celebrities. The initial burst of ads, revealed on the MTV Video Music Awards broadcast in August, featured young celebrities (Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Rhianna and others) smoking cigarettes. Sources said the images were deliberately used without the stars' prior knowledge or permission. 

As part of the strategy sources said, Legacy even put money aside to defend against lawsuits that celebs might file. The idea was that lawsuits would help bring more exposure to the campaign and reinforce the message to young people that smoking is idiotic. 
That strategy is in line with the provocative approach often taken by Legacy. But MediaCom, as part of a publicly traded entity decided that it could not risk potential exposure to a lawsuit, and reluctantly, per sources, gave up the account.  
American Legacy didn’t return queries seeking comment; MediaCom officials could not be immediately reached and Assembly referred queries to the client.

The Assembly appointment came around the start of the New Year, and the shop was in place to help launch Legacy’s new Left Swipe Dat effort during the Grammy Awards telecast earlier this month. The new video features a number of YouTube and Vine influencers delivering an anti-tobacco message that Legacy hopes will resonate with teens.   

American Legacy spends an estimated $50 million annually on ads.

This story has been updated with additional information including details about why MediaCom resigned the account. 

Next story loading loading..