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U.S. Smokeless Switches Shops

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CHICAGO U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, the maker of Skoal and Copenhagen moist snuff, has dropped Doe-Anderson as its advertising agency and selected Colangelo.

The switch was part of a cost-cutting effort that included an evaluation of all vendors.

Colangelo in Darien, Conn., was chosen from a field of three finalists based on its "demonstrated skill in creating fully integrated marketing platforms across several communications media," USST said in a statement. The incumbent defended.

Thano Chaltas, vp of marketing at the Greenwich, Conn., company, also said that Colangelo's proximity will help foster a strong working relationship.

The decision ends a four-year run for Doe-Anderson in Louisville, Ky., which handled campaigns for Skoal ("A pinch better") and Copenhagen ("Fresh Cope, it satisfies") and shepherded Red Seal, Husky and other brands.

Measured media spending for the USST portfolio totaled close to $20 million through the first 10 months of 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Some smokeless players have positioned their products as a tobacco option when smokers cannot light up. Yet USST's market share of premium-priced brands had been sliding during the past couple of years due partly to the proliferation of value-priced competition.

The smokeless tobacco leader seems to have stabilized that decline during the third quarter with sales increasing 1 percent versus the comparable 2005 period. During a Dec. 19 conference with analysts, CEO Murray Kessler affirmed that USST is aiming for a 10 percent return to shareholders during 2007.