Defends Account of 13-Year Client Against Big-City Competition
ATLANTA--Ducane Gas Grills retained incumbent The Gillespie Agency last week. It was the shop's most important defense in its 13-year relationship with the client.
A recent influx of cash has resulted in the high-end gas grill manufacturer quadrupling its advertising budget to $2 million "as we seek to move from a word-of-mouth product," said Ducane president and chief executive officer John Ducate Jr.
Ducate, a New Jersey native, said that after talking to agencies in Chicago, New York and St. Louis, he planned to hire New York's Brown, Scotti & Sergott Partners. He called Elaine Gillespie, the incumbent's president, to break the news.
"She didn't complain, she didn't whine, she just said, 'I hope you're going to give me an opportunity to prove myself,' and I realized it was only fair," Ducate said.
"It was scary," Gillespie admitted. "This was the first time we really had to go up against somebody [from outside the region], somebody from New York. If we had lost, it would have changed people's lives."
The Gillespie Agency did not lose.
"I needed to be blown out of the water, and South Carolina blew me out of the water," Ducate said. "[Gillespie] proved to me they are devoted to my account. We have been using only part of their agency because of our limited budget . . . [and] she showed me they had somebody who could be assigned to every project, every part of the business."
The Gillespie Agency will handle advertising, dealer and distributor relations, media buying, game show and product placements, co-op promotions, collateral and Web site development.
"They've always had good creative, great turnaround time and communication with our dealers," Ducate said. "I'm kind of hard to please and they pleased me."
Ducane, recently named a best category buy by Consumers Digest, was called "the safest gas grill in America" in a class action lawsuit against all U.S. grill manufacturers.
"Our research has us seeing a lot of repurchasers, and now I want to reach out and get some first time buyers." Ducate said.
"When Gillespie did not have the resources from us, they were still able to help us in so many ways," Ducate said. "Loyalty is important to us. If the talent wasn't here, I'd go to New York. But I've been convinced the talent is here."
Both the client and agency are located in Columbia, S.C.