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Washington Taps Sedgwick Rd. for Anti-Smoking

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Sedgwick Rd. president Jim Walker was in a client meeting recently when an official from the Washington State Health Department called to say she was in the lobby. "I excused myself rather quickly," Walker recalled.

Waiting for him was contracts officer Susan DeBlasio, who hand-delivered the news: The Seattle agency had won the state's two-year, $10 million anti-tobacco account. It's the first win for the 70-person agency since changing its name from McCann-Erickson to Sedgwick Rd. in April.

The other contenders in the review were Cole & Weber/Red Cell and Think, both in Seattle, and WhiteRunkle Associates in Spo kane, Wash. DeLaunay/Phillips Communications in Seattle and G/F/D/M (formerly Asher/Gal & Partners) in Los Angeles previously shared the account.

TV, print and radio ads will focus on preventing and reducing smoking among teens, said Dona Ross, agency svp of brand development. (State health officials estimate that each day, about 65 of the state's young people start smoking.) Also planned is an interactive campaign from Sedgwick Rd.'s online partner, Pop Multimedia in Seattle.

Ross said the win struck a personal chord, as nearly everyone working on the business has kids. Walker, who has two teenage boys, said the shop sought the input of the target audience in fashioning its strategy for the review. "We worked really closely with teens throughout this process," he said.

Walker did not reveal details of the campaign, which is set to break in September, but said it will meet the challenge of taking a fresh approach to anti-smoking.

The review was quick and intense, said Laurie Jinkins, the health department's administrator for community and family health. The RFP went out June 11, and a decision was made in short order, she said.

"[Sedgwick Rd.'s] proposal was very strong, and I think they have what it takes to prevent tobacco use in the state," Jinkins said.