By Judy Warner
BOSTON--Cone Communications last week was named public relations agency of record by Dunkin' Donuts.
The assignment concluded a six-month review that originally included some of the public relations industry's heaviest hitters, including incumbent Hill & Knowlton and Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, both in New York.
Only two shops were asked to participate in a final round, which included a strategic marketing assignment and a series of meetings between agency and client executives. Those two shops, sources said last week, were Cone in Boston and Cohn & Wolfe in New York.
The review was coordinated by Laurie Kiely, director of retail marketing for Dunkin' Donuts. Prior to joining the Randolph, Mass.-based company about a year ago, Kiely worked in a marketing capacity at Cole-Haan in Yarmouth, Maine, and for Hyde Athletic's Saucony brand in Peabody, Mass. She also worked as an account executive for four years at Cone, but agency chief executive officer Carol Cone downplayed the significance of that relationship in the final decision.
'Laurie's involvement had no affect on the decision,' Cone said. 'It helped us get into the pitch, but the review committee consisted of eight or nine people,' including Dunkin' Donuts president Will Kussell and vice president of integrated marketing Edward Binder.
The Dunkin' Donuts win marks a return to the fast-food category for Cone Communications, which handled McDonald's franchisees throughout New England for six years. It is also the first significant account victory since Jens Bang was named executive vice president of the agency in February. 'Clients are really impressed with his depth and knowledge of sales and marketing,' Cone said.
Since January, Cone has added $2 million in fees from not only Dunkin' Donuts, but also Papermate and The Venetian, the luxury casino and convention complex being built by Las Vegas Sands, Cone said.
The increase in revenues from new clients has spurred the hiring of 10 new employees, will create new positions and has accelerated plans to expand office space. Cone also plans to announce soon that it has opened a full-service office in New York, she said.
And what does Cone, a fitness fanatic, know about donuts, bagels and coffee? 'I'm flipped out by their coffee, especially hazelnut,' she said.
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