Austin Kelley Wins

ATLANTA-Austin Kelley Advertising has won Georgia’s first anti-smoking marketing initiative.

The Atlanta shop, which already handles the state’s successful lottery business, bested crosstown rivals BBDO South and Fleishman Hillard for the estimated $6 million Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

“In the final analysis, Austin Kelley’s proposal was the best overall plan,” said Georgia Department of Human Resources commissioner Gary Dedding.

Austin Kelley’s partner in the high-profile pitch was sister Interpublic Group public relations agency Golin/Harris International.

More than a dozen agencies originally responded to a request for proposal from the DHR’s Public Health Division.

Fleishman Hillard’s pitch, made with Washington, D.C.-based social marketing agency GMMB&A, targeted pregnant women and minors.

Sources familiar with the review indicated BBDO South got off to a bad start by sending in a pitch team larger than the limit set in the request for proposal.

The 1998 Tobacco Settlement put Georgia in line to receive $4.8 billion from tobacco companies over 25 years. Georgia’sGeneral Assembly has earmarked $15.8 million to fund efforts to cut tobacco usage in the state, so billings, sources said, are likely to grow over the next few years.

Anti-smoking marketing will have political hurdles to clear in Georgia because the state is one of the nation’s top 10 tobacco producers. In particular, Brown & William-son is a significant presence, employing more than 3,000.