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Focus to Launch Dutch Cigar

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Agio Sigarenfabrieken, a cigar manufacturer in Duizel, Holland, hired The Focus Agency here to handle the U.S. introduction of its new Balmoral brand.
Mark Miller, Focus president and chief executive officer, confirmed the win last week. Billings are still being determined, but sources pegged spending in the $3-5 million range.
Miller said Focus was selected without a formal review after meeting with Agio executives and outlining the agency's capabilities earlier this month. Focus has been asked to develop a full marketing program that will include national print advertising and promotional support.
Miller said ads will likely begin appearing in February or March. "You'll probably see ads in Cigar Afficionado, but our plans go far beyond that. This is a chance for us to use our total integrated communications platform," Miller said.
Agio, which has annual sales of more than 500 million cigars, has incorporated the Balmoral Cigar Co. in Tampa, Fla., to handle marketing, sales and distribution of the brand, which will launch in January. The Tampa operation will be headed by U.S. president David Salem.
Agio executives could not be reached last week, but in a statement issued to Adweek, Salem said: "We chose Focus because of their impressive track record of building brands in hyper-competitive categories. We needed a partner that could truly deliver a fully integrated product as well as exceptional creative."
Focus, part of Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services group, was a dedicated GTE Corp. shop until that client shifted to Ogilvy & Mather, New York, in February.
Balmoral is the second account win for Focus since it lost the GTE business. In August, the agency earned direct marketing assignments from Qwest Communications, a Denver-based provider of long- distance phone service.