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Carolina Utility Begins Review

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With deregulation looming in the energy industry, an undisclosed number of agencies around the Southeast have been contacted about pitching the account of Carolina Power & Light in Raleigh, N.C.
Most of the estimated $4 million advertising account is serviced by Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods of Little Rock, Ark., from its Raleigh office.
Barb Perkins, vice president at CJRW's North Carolina office, said the relationship with the client grew out of internal projects involving media planning and buying assignments, plus strategic planning duties. Media work covers television, radio and print.
CJRW has also worked for the utility's retail services division, emergency notification programs and database system. The client has a number of other shops handling projects, including branding.
This will be the second time the company has reviewed its account. In spring 1997, the utility severed its 25-year relationship with McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C., simply saying, "It was time for a change." CP&L was already working with Cranford at the time it left McKinney.
The request for proposal, sent out by The Bedford Group in Atlanta, asks shops for, among other facts, relevant experience with industries undergoing deregulation or clients in complex market circumstances.
Consultancy chief executive Jane Bedford confirmed she was handling the search for CP&L, but referred further questions about the review to the client. Utility officials did not return calls at press time.
Sources said agencies invited to pitch the business have until this week to return the questionnaire. The incumbent will be part of the review, agency officials confirmed.
Even though the Raleigh office opened in January 1998 primarily as a CP&L service site, Perkins said CJRW has diversified its client base to sustain the possible loss of the business. Other CJRW clients in Raleigh include the United Arts Council, Cafe Carolina, Sheraton and Heater Utilities.