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Frank's Reunites With Meridian

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Frank's Nursery & Crafts, which took the bulk of its ad duties in-house in 1998, has returned to one of its former agencies, naming Meridian Advertising for its $10 million account without a review.

As a result, The Troy, Mich.- based retailer will eliminate its small internal ad department. Several employees from that unit have been hired by the agency, said Jeff Jacobs, Meridian executive vp of marketing and planning. Also hired was Steve Schroeder from The Stephans Group in Grosse Pointe, Mich., who will lead the business as account director.

Schroeder owned The Stephans Group for the past eight years and was previously with J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, and the now-defunct Ross Roy Communications, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Meridian previously worked on Frank's business in the mid-1990s, along with the now-defunct Stone August Baker. The agency, also in Troy, was re-enlisted for projects late last fall and was put in charge of the account last month, Jacobs said.

Meridian got to know Frank's CEO, Steve Fishman, when he was at retailer Pamida, paving the way for the reunion, Jacobs said.

Frank's, owned by FNC Holdings in New York, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year. The retailer has 170 stores in 14 states, down from 263 in fall 2000.

Meridian's assignment includes advertising and promotional strategy, creative development, production, media buying and post-event sales analysis. Initially, weekly circulars will be the retailer's primary focus, Jacobs said. The agency will use the medium to not only move merchandise but also brand the retailer, he said. Broadcast is under consideration.

Jacobs said the client has gained focus since the bankruptcy. "[Frank's] has become more focused on who they are and who they are selling to," he said.

Besides lawn and garden products, Frank's also sells Christmas merchandise, artificial flowers and arrangements, garden and floral crafts and home decorative products.

The agency's other major client, Kmart Corp., is aware of the relationship, Jacobs said. Kmart also sells garden items. There will be no crossover of employees, and the two teams will operate in separate buildings, Jacobs said.