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Edelman, M&C Saatchi and BVK form “Dream Team” Visit America Alliance To Represent Federal U.S. Tourism Marketing Initiative

Chicago, March 22, 2004 – The Visit America Alliance, made up of lead contractor Edelman, M&C Saatchi, and BVK was awarded today the $6M Department of Commerce contract for integrated advertising, marketing and public relations. The reward is the first federal initiative in nearly a decade for marketing the United States as a destination. The campaign will focus on attracting visitors from a single market, the UK, in year one, as a pilot program for what is envisioned to be an ongoing and expanding campaign. In the UK, Walker Media will handle the media planning and buying, and Longwoods International will provide independent research services.

Collectively, the Alliance considers its tourism expertise unbeatable in its ability to achieve the Government’s objectives which are: to increase U.S. visitation, to augment the economic impact realized from inbound visitation, to generate interest and future intent to visit the U.S., and to build perception of the U.S. as a travel destination in the UK. Due in part to the attacks of 9/11 the U.S. Tourism industry has suffered declines in recent years. Spending by international inbound travelers has fallen to a 2002 low of $87.8 billion from $102 billion in 2000.

According to the Department of Commerce, which is the contracting agency, strengths were seen in the Visit America Alliance for its leadership and expertise in the field of tourism.

“It is exciting for those of us in the tourism marketing community to see the federal tourism campaign for the United State come to fruition and we of course are proud to be associated with it. By creating the Visit America Alliance with Edelman, M&C Saatchi and BVK, we have formed a tourism marketing “dream-team” to carry out this important task,” said Cathleen Johnson, Executive Vice President, General Manager and leader of Edelman’s global tourism practice. “As independent agencies, our ability to pick out and partner with the best has been a real asset. Our combined experience in the tourism arena is a force to be reckoned with.

But, more importantly, we are all passionate about the tourism business, and the Visit America Alliance considers it an honor to represent the United States’ first federal initiative. We can’t wait to get started.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for all of us. It was a truly global team response. M&C Saatchi offices in L.A., London and Tokyo were all involved in developing our brutally simple response to the brief. We look forward to developing an integrated campaign for the U. K. market” said Huw Griffith, CEO M&C Saatchi who leads the M&C Saatchi Worldwide team.

“Unity, cohesion and partnership efforts are nice ideas in boom times. They are imperatives in tough times. We are thrilled to put our expertise in the development and implementation of strategic alliances and cooperative partnerships to work for such a great effort” said Mary DeLong, Sr. V.P. BVK.

“In addition to being a significant win for the Alliance, this is a significant and important win for Edelman’s new Federal Programs Practice. It’s not our first federal contract – we already work for HHS and AID – but it’s our biggest. The fact that we won this highly competitive international assignment just a few months after being listed on the GSA Schedule shows the strength and value of Edelman’s offering to government clients. We’re proud and delighted to be handed this business, and we’ll deliver a first-rate product” said Neal Flieger, General Manger, Edelman Washington D.C.

About Edelman
Edelman is the world's largest independent public relations firm with 1,800 employees in 39 offices worldwide. In 2003, The Holmes Group named Edelman "Agency of the Year," and PRWeek voted its work for CIT "Best Campaign of the Year," the industry's most prestigious award for client programming. Edelman's network includes four specialty firms - Blue (advertising), First&42nd (management consulting), StrategyOne (research) and BioScience Communications (medical education and publishing) - making it possible for us to offer clients a comprehensive spectrum of communications. Visit www.edelman.com for more information.

About M&C Saatchi
M&C Saatchi was established in 1995 by Maurice Saatchi after he left Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency he and his brother grew to be one of the biggest and better known agencies in the world.
M&C Saatchi is already the fastest growing advertising agency in the world and is one of the largest global independent networks. The Agency handles Tourism New Zealand, British Airways, Qantas, Crystal Cruises and Ketel One business in US. Visit www.mcsaatchi.com for more information.


About BVK
BVK is a $200million integrated marketing firm with headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and branch offices in Chicago, Tampa, Miami, Cape Coral, Florida and Sacramento, CA. BVK has a national reputation in the travel-leisure-recreation category with clients such as The Mark Travel Corporation, Samsonite, Lee County Florida VCB, Cruisers Yachts, Sunstream Resorts and TravelGuard International insurance. Visit www.bvk.com for more information.