Akins’ Mission: Boost Business In Tennessee

The Tennessee De-partment of Economic and Community Development signed Akins & Tombras, the public relations arm of The Tombras Group, Knoxville, Tenn., to handle its estimated $500,000 to $1 million ad account.
Pitching the business with sister firm Charles Tombras Advertising (CTA), Akins & Tombras (A&T) defeated Ingram Creative Market-ing in LaVergne, Tenn., and Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence, Ericson Marketing Communications and Endres Eng Wilson, all in Nashville, Tenn.
Based in Nashville, the state government agency had handled advertising in-house for about 10 years, said Leigh Wieland, client director of advertising and communications.
“We want to raise the level of awareness about Tennessee as a premier business location,” Wieland said. “[A&T’s proposal] was really an innovative approach.”
Alex Fischer, A&T executive vice president and chief operating officer, said speculative print ads put the spotlight on Tennessee businesses such as FedEx and Saturn Corp.
“Surprisingly, a campaign of this nature has never really been laid out for the state,” said Fischer, who hopes to double the state’s budget via co-op marketing with Tennessee firms. A print and public relations campaign will break in January.
Experience also played a role in the account win. Fischer and A&T president Darrell Akins previously headed economic organizations, and CTA is the agency for the Knoxville Convention & Visitors Bureau.