Finalists Eyed In Fort James’ $40 Mil. Search

Fort James, the recently merged paper-products company, has named four contenders in the review for media planning and buying duties on its estimated
$40 million U.S. ad account.
Linda Fidelman, of ADvice & ADvisors here, who is overseeing the review, identified the four
New York finalists as McCann- Erickson, The Media Edge, TN Media and Zenith Media. Zenith already handles Fort James’ estimated $15 million account in Europe, however, Fidelman insisted that will not give it an edge in the U.S. review.
DDB Needham here, the U.S. media incumbent, did not make the list but will retain creative and strategic planning duties for Deerfield, Ill.-based Fort James, sources said.
The four shops, which were winnowed from a list of about a dozen agencies, were given briefs which include an assignment to solve a strategic media planning problem.
“The client is looking for smart strategic thinking, state-of-the-art technology and maximum leverage in the marketplace,” said Fidelman. “And of course, chemistry is vital.”
Presentations will take place at the agencies on Nov. 23 and 24, with a decision expected the following week. The winner will be responsible for media duties on the following brands: Quilted Northern bath tissue, Brawny paper towels, and Dixie cups.
The media review is part of a larger, corporate-wide strategic sourcing initiative at Fort James, one year after James River acquired Fort Howard, a recycled-paper maker.
For the year ending Sept. 27, 1998, Quilted Northern bath tissue was the No. 2 brand in the category with nearly $523 million in sales, behind leader Charmin with just over $1 billion in sales, per Information Resources.