Via Closes Out Year With a Bang

Via is closing out the year in winning fashion, adding advertising chores from fine paper concern Stora Enzo and a “brand audit” assignment from Nationwide Insurance through which the shop will evaluate the client’s marketing programs.

Unlike many of its competitors, Portland, Maine-based Via turned in one of its best performances in 2001, growing some 20 percent and quietly becoming one of New England’s largest independent agencies. The shop has about 100 employees and $100 million in billings, said agency officials.

Via picked up the estimated $5 million Stora Enzo ad business last week following a review of undisclosed shops. The company, based in Stockholm, Sweden, is looking to gain some domestic brand recognition as it takes on better known competitors such as International Paper, Mead Paper and Sappi Fine Paper.

“Via understands the challenges of our industry,” said Christine Fuchs-Jonsson, vp/marketing at Stora Enzo North America in Stamford, Conn. “We felt they had a modern edge.”

Via will fashion print, direct and e-marketing materials that mainly target graphic designers and the professional publishing community, said John Coleman,Via’s chief executive. The work will appear early next year and mark Stora Enzo’s first marketing foray in North America.

Separately, Via has been tapped to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of Nationwide’s advertising efforts. The insurance company is based in Columbus, Ohio, where Via maintains a outpost.

Nationwide works with Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, for its core insurance business and Burrell Communications, Chicago, on ef-forts to reach African-American consumers.

The client spent more than $20 million on advertising in 2000 and nearly $10 million through August 2001, according to CMR.

Coleman stopped short of calling the “audit” process a precursor to a full-blown agency review, but he did say that marketing changes and new assignments could arise based on Via’s efforts. Nationwide executives did not return calls.

Eight-year-old Via has reversed the down trend in the agency market all year and has claimed several noteworthy accounts. Banknorth Group, Ohio Health and Pur-chaseSoft are recent additions.