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Connecticut Readies Smokeout

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North Castle Partners, Alden, TSI Selected to Challenge Tobacco
BOSTON--North Castle Partners has leveraged its youth-marketing expertise to win a portion of the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management's first anti-smoking assignment.
The Stamford, Conn., agency was one of three firms selected to work on the $4 million media and education initiative funded through the master settlement between major tobacco firms and states attorneys general.
North Castle will share the business with Alden Event Productions, Bristol, Conn., and Training Solutions Interactive, Atlanta.
Specific duties have yet to be worked out and the vendors have yet to sign contracts with the state, said Maraide Sullivan, a Connecticut OPM representative.
However, Sullivan said the workload will likely consist of North Castle handling research and evaluation of media strategies, Alden contributing its expertise with film, video and special events production and TSI creating educational materials. The overall goal is to help reduce smoking among children and adults in Connecticut.
North Castle's "fabulous track record with youth" was the key factor in its selection, Sullivan said. The shop is perhaps best known for its hyperkinetic, teen-oriented Slim Jim Man character.
North Castle, Alden and TSI will meet with state officials for the first time in the next few weeks to iron out details. No timetable has been established for ads to appear.
The three companies did not pitch as a team but now must work together, a somewhat unusual situation even in the often confounding realm of government procurements, conceded Cliff McFeely, president of North Castle, and Bob O'Brien, president of Alden. However, the executives said their respective organizations are up to the challenge.
The first order of business after signing the contract, McFeely said, will be to go into Connecticut schools to gauge teen attitudes toward smoking and tobacco products and to develope an effective media strategy. Alden, which handles some production chores for ESPN, intends to take the lead on fashioning the creative execution, O'Brien said. K