Fitzgerald Scores Pair of Wins

Fitzgerald & Co. is on a roll.

In the last month, the Atlanta shop has won the accounts of Wolf Camera, Raymond James Financial and Johnston & Murphy shoes.

Billings for all three wins are estimated at $20-25 million.

“A wise man once told me that there are four stages to a merger,” said agency chief executive officer Dave Fitzgerald, referring to the 1998 Interpublic-mandated union that combined his agency and McCann-Erickson’s Atlanta office. “Forming, storming, norming and performing. We’re finally in the performing stage.”

Fitzgerald defeated Miami finalist Crispin Porter + Bogusky after a review that originally included Levenson & Hill of Dallas to become Wolf Camera’s first lead agency. The shop’s success in expanding Opti-World’s retail eyewear business (later bought by LensCrafters) clearly contributed to the win.

“We’ve known Fitzgerald’s reputation for a long time,” said Wayne Freedman, Wolf’s chief marketing officer. “Their consumer insights, branding and retail experience impressed us.”

Marketing for the 10-year-old Alpharetta, Ga.-based photographic retail chain, which has grown to 550 stores in 20 states, had been handled in-house, much of it built around founder Chuck Wolf.

Fitzgerald suggested upcoming broadcast work will continue to make use of the Wolf persona.

“Consumers trust Chuck,” Fitz-gerald said. “He personifies an impersonal business.”

Raymond James, a Tampa, Fla.-based financial services firm with 1,900 offices in the U.S. and Canada, originally awarded its estimated$5 million account to Harris Drury Cohen of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a review held last summer.

When HDC and Raymond James parted company earlier this year, Fitzgerald, last year’s runner-up, was brought on board.

Promoting financial services in a slumping market will be Fitzgerald’s biggest challenge, particularly against big spending, high-profile giants like Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab.

“There is likely to be a good deal of disenchantment with financial planners out there,” said Fitzgerald. “Our job is to brand and position Raymond James as a great, smart company operating in a touchy economy.”

Fitzgerald defeated DDB and The Richards Group, both in Dallas, to win Johnston & Murphy’s shoe business [Adweek, March 26].