Mullen Prepares for Progress

Mullen’s strategy of targeting new-business prospects looking to make brand transitions paid off last week as it added advertising chores for Progress Energy.

The Raleigh, N.C., client, formed afetr the acquisition of Florida Power by Carolina Power & Light, looks to the Interpublic Group agency in Wenham, Mass., to establish a cohesive identity in upcoming work. Mullen outpaced Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners, New York, and Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, in the final round of a review. BBDO, Atlanta, was the in cumbent. The budget is $10-12 million.

After a rough transition year in 2001—integrating its operations in Wenham and Winston-Salem, N.C.—Mullen began 2002 with a vow to use that experience to drive its new-business initiatives. That strategy has thus far been successful. The shop has added as much as $100 million in new billings since January from clients such as Wachovia, Nextel, Foster Grant and Eddie Bauer.

Serving 3 million customers in the Southeast, Progress and its subsidiaries offer telecom, electricity and natural-gas services. Progress Ventures, which manages the companies’ nonregulated energy operations, will also be promoted in the campaign.

“Each of those were known in their respective markets and are now going through the change of being local utility companies to a national energy-services corporation,” said Edward Boches, Mullen chief creative.

“We’ve become a large company with a breadth of capabilities,” said JoAnn Miller, manager of brand and marketing communications at Pro g ress. Mullen’s work will help the company make the transition from a regional electricity provider to an integrated utilities conglomerate.

A fall campaign will likely involve TV, radio and print, Boches said. Mullen may also collaborate with the client’s in-house communications group on collateral and direct-marketing projects.

Mullen’s creative and strategic skills were decisive, the client said.

“They had a passion for excellence of their creative product,” said Miller, who also cited the chemistry between Progress executives and Mullen’s pitch team. The latter included Boches, group creative director Jim Hagar, account directors Jim Hartrich and Paula Katkin, and brand planning director Ted Nelson.