Merlin Entertainments books Wavemaker as media agency partner

Merlin Entertainment's London attraction Shrek’s Adventure!
Merlin Entertainment's London attraction Shrek’s Adventure!

The owner of Alton Towers has consolidated its media buying and planning into the Group M agency.

Merlin Entertainments has consolidated its media planning and buying into Wavemaker following a competitive review overseen by Oystercatchers.

The family entertainment group previously split the media for its theme parks and resorts (such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Legoland Windsor) and its Midway indoor attractions (which include The London Eye, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life).

Wavemaker has also been appointed to handle media planning and buying at Midway attractions in Europe, which include Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and The Dungeons.

Campaign understands Interpublic's UM was involved in the review. Dentsu’s Vizeum (now iProspect) previously handled media for Merlin’s Midway indoor attractions and declined to take part in the review. It is not known who previously handled the planning and buying for the theme parks and resorts.

The estimated annual media billings of the consolidated account is £14m.

Merlin reviewed its marketing activity this year as it looked to target growth following the lifting of Covid restrictions and the return of international visitors. 

Sara Holt, Midway sales and marketing director at Merlin Entertainments, said: “We believe Wavemaker’s return on investment-driving, data-rich and positively provocative approach will rocket-fuel our long-term ambition to be the world’s biggest location-based entertainment business. 

“As chairperson of the London Tourism Recovery Board’s marketing directors group, I saw first-hand with Wavemaker’s 'Let’s do London' campaign how they can create step-change opportunities and have helped drive a significant recovery for London.” 

The Merlin result comes during a mixed new-business period for Wavemaker. It recently lost the £75m Comparethemarket account, although it retained the brand's SEO work, but wins in recent months include fitness business Zwift and dating app Bumble.

The Group M agency was established through the merger of MEC and Maxus.

Campaign understands the Merlin account will be managed across Wavemaker’s UK offices in London and Manchester.

Mick Style, chief executive of Wavemaker North, said: “The Merlin resorts and attractions are some of the most loved by all generations across the globe. Our positive provocation approach is perfectly placed to help support them with their ambitious, yet achievable, goal to be the world’s biggest location-based entertainment business.” 

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