WWL to Resell Pro Basketball in Charlotte

ATLANTA Wray Ward Laseter said it has been chosen lead advertising and public relations agency for North Carolina’s newest National Basketball Association team.

The Charlotte, N.C., shop topped local rivals Price/McNabb, Elberson Senger Shuler, Corder Philips & Wilson, Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy, Lyerly Agency and Boone/Oakley in a review. The latter had held the account of its hometown’s former NBA team, the Hornets, during the franchise’s last four seasons in Charlotte.

Billings for the first 12-18 months are estimated a $1 million, sources said.

Agency president Jennifer Appleby said the franchise has a lot of history to overcome as it tries to establish itself in a city still angry over the departure of the Hornets to New Orleans two years ago.

“They’re in unchartered territory,” said Appleby. “Teams have come back to cities, but this is the launch of a new club with new owners and a need to distinguish themselves from the Hornets.”

WWL’s first assignment is to develop marketing programs aimed at attracting charter and corporate ticket holders for the 2004 season.

Initial work will break in June following the selection of the Charlotte team’s nickname. Franchise officials headed by owner Robert Johnson are considering three: Bobcats, Dragons and Flight. A decision is expected next week.

Appleby said the shop would create a public relations buzz around the new name before beginning advertising. “When it gets time to start selling [tickets], the environment will be good,” she said.