BBDO South Claims N.C. Utility

Atlanta Agency Prepares to Re-energize Carolina Power & Light
ATLANTA–Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) of Raleigh, N.C., has selected BBDO South here to handle advertising and marketing duties, the culmination of a review that began last March.
The account, which had previously been handled by Little Rock, Ark.-based Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods (CJRW), was first reported to be worth about $4 million. CP&L representative Mike Hughes, however, indicated that figure would actually be much higher.
“There’s certainly been a recognition on our part that we are going to become much more active in advertising than we have in the last year or two,” Hughes said, acknowledging increased competition due to industry deregulation.
One source familiar with the account said the business was actually in the “low eight-figures range.”
The utility’s review was conducted by The Bedford Group in Atlanta. Principal Jane Bedford did not return phone calls for comment.
Hughes indicated that the initial round consisted of 10 agencies, including the incumbent. A cut was made to “around half” that number, but did not include the Arkansas shop, which maintained a Raleigh office to service the account. CJRW said it came to a “mutual decision” with the client to withdraw [Adweek, May 10] from consideration.
Hughes said that BBDO South will be responsible for creative development, branding strategy and “all issues related to advertising.” Media buys have not yet been awarded, but may go to BBDO as well. “We have had in the past a relationship with one or another minority-owned agency to make media buys in some cases, and are examining that,” Hughes added.
CP&L provides electricity and energy services to about 1.2 million customers in central and eastern North Carolina, the Asheville area and the PeeDee region of South Carolina. The company owns and operates 16 power plants and has several other facilities under construction. It has agreed to buy North Carolina Natural Gas, which will boost its Tarheel customer base by about 15 percent.
CP&L, prior to contracting CJRW in 1997, severed a 25-year relationship with McKinney & Silver, also located in Raleigh.
“Of course the experience that BBDO has in industries going through similar regulatory changes and other cultural changes was certainly an attraction,” Hughes said. “But I also think there was a connection between our advertising folks and the agency.