The lone outsider is now the insider

The lone outsider is now the insider.
Topping six Midwest agencies, Fitzgerald & Co. here has won the ad portion of the $33 million account to launch a consumer education program for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
Fitzgerald will be PUCO’s first agency. The impending industry deregulation led the commission to begin a search late last year, as consumers in Ohio–the nation’s fourth-largest electricity market–will be able to choose their utility beginning next Jan. 1. The supplier they pick will generate the power, while their current electric company will distribute it through existing wires.
Being the only out-of-region contender was not a problem for Fitzgerald. Its Atlanta Gas Light ‘s consumer education campaign as well as utility experience with the Tennessee Valley Authority helped carry the day.
“There are very few people with this type of experience in the advertising world,” said agency principal Dave Fitzgerald. “I was confident.”
Twenty-three ad firms initially submitted proposals; seven were asked by the consumer education advisory group to give presentations. Besides Fitzgerald, those shops were Bates USA Midwest of Indianapolis; and five Ohio agencies: Northlich Stolley La-Warre, Cincinnati; Wyse Advertising, Cleveland; and Lord, Sullivan & Yoder, SBC Advertising and HMS Partners, all Columbus.
According to Beth Gianforcaro of PUCO’s media office, Fitzgerald was the unanimous choice. The shop will handle all creative strategies and media buys for television, radio and print.
The $33 million budget covers a $16 million ad and public relations effort. Sources estimated the ad account alone will hit $10 million in the first year. The other $17 million will be used during the remainder of the restructuring period.
PUCO awarded public relations duties to High Point-Franklin in High Point, N.H., and market research chores to the Center for Research & Public Policy in New Haven, Conn.