4 Finalists Vie for Alabama Power’s Retail Centers

The Alabama Power Appliance Sales Centers has narrowed its agency search to four finalists.

Contending for the creative portion of the retail account are BaylessCronin, T.G. Madison, 360 and Cole Henderson Drake, all in Atlanta. Incumbent Intermark Gillis of Birmingham, Ala., is not participating.

Media, handled by Luckie & Co. in Birmingham, is not part of the review. Billings for both portions of the account total $3-4 million.

Advertising for the appliance centers, a division of Alabama Power and Atlanta-based Southern Company, is handled separately from branding work, according to company spokesperson Mary Story.

“Because it’s retail oriented, we’re looking for an agency with retail experience,” Story said. “This is why we’re not using [lead agency] Harris Drury Cohen. We want to do a more coordinated effort on behalf of the retail centers.”

The Birmingham-based client operates 96 retail sites in Alabama. The winning shop will be responsible for creating TV, radio, print and direct mail messages.

“We’re looking for strong creative, but strategic thinking is a nudge more important here,” said Story. “The bottom line is to increase sales.”

Finalists were asked to develop spec creative around a Memorial Day sale.

“I’m sure people addressed bigger issues as well,” said a source involved in the review, who added that current retail ads strayed far from the utility’s general market branding, calling the work “hard and high pitched.”

Soft-edged TV spots by HDC of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tout the utility’s dependable service and conservation efforts.

“What’s unique about our centers, and what’s kept them in business, is that they’re in rural areas where there aren’t a lot of other discount stores,” said Story.

The client expects to make a final decision this week.