Bayless to Tout Rural Retailer

BaylessCronin has won the creative account of Alabama Power’s Appliance Sales Centers.

The Atlanta shop defeated local rivals T.G. Madison, 360 and Cole Henderson Drake in a review to win the retail business. Incumbent Intermark Gillis of Birmingham, Ala., did not compete.

“The deciding factor was our ability to do good television,” said Bayless creative director Jerry Cronin.

The competition, sources said, could not counter Bayless’ extensive reel of television work, which includes ESPN, Monday Night Football, Tweeters and Church’s Chicken spots.

Birmingham’s Luckie & Co. will continue to handle media planning and buying for the estimated$3-4 million account.

The corporate branding portion of the business, held by Harris Drury Cohen of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was not in review.

Alabama Power, a division of the Southern Company, operates scores of the appliance centers in the state’s rural counties where there are few discount or department stores. At the outlets, consumers may purchase electrical appliances, ranging from stoves to large-screen TVs, utilizing revolving credit accounts provided by the utility. The credit accounts are typically paid down as part of the monthly power bill.

In the past, the marketing budget had been divided among individual retail locations. One result was that advertising tended to drift away from the power company’s branding message: “There are a lot of things people depend on Alabama Power for. Electricity just happens to be one of them.”

“We were looking for strong creative, but strategic thinking was more important,” utility spokesperson Mary Story told Adweek. “The bottom line is to increase sales.”

Over the next months, the agency will produce print and broadcast advertising, along with direct mail tied to the centers’ seasonal and holiday sales promotions.

In addition to Cronin’s creative department, director of account services Rob Gerds, media director Patricia Wilson and account planner Sarah Childress helped deliver the business.

The account win comes at an opportune time for BaylessCronin, rocked earlier this month by the loss of its Tweeter home entertainment business. The agency is also in the thick of a battle to salvage parent Merkley Newman Harty & Partners’ $120 million BellSouth account, which is in review.