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Energy Wholesaler Does a Split

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Southern Company and Georgia Power have selected Fitzgerald + Co. and 360 Thinc to handle advertising for their combined $10-12 million account.

The two shops bested Atlanta rivals WestWayne and J. Walter Thompson. The review saw all four agencies developing creative assignments for Lee Birdsong, advertising and marketing communications manager at Atlanta-based Southern Co.. The firm sells wholesale electricity in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

"We've had work piling up for months," said Birdsong. "This gave us a lot of insights into each agency's strengths and to how it would feel working with them every day."

Fitzgerald's ad is appearing in Time magazine's energy supplement this week. It also revised existing TV commercials for the client-sponsored PGA tour that were affected by the April 1 spinoff of Southern's parent, Mirant. JWT bought media for the same events. 360 did a print ad that ran in The Wall Street Journal last week. WestWayne produced radio spots.

Birdsong said her selection was based on the strengths of both Atlanta agencies.

"360 does a great job on result- oriented programs," she said. "Fitzgerald's brand experience with TVA and Atlanta Gas Light brought them to the table."

Fitzgerald will handle brand advertising and media placement; 360 will focus on marketing client services and Energy Direct.com, which offers power management to business customers, online billing and payment protection insurance.

Television and print ads are expected to appear in the third quarter. Work related to the PGA tour will break immediately.

"We'll work with the client to develop the strategies and directions," said Joel Babbit, chiefexecutive officer of 360 Thinc. "Then we'll handle the creative portions of our pieces with consistency and continuity."