Gallo Taps Carol H. Williams for Cognac Launch

The E&J Gallo Winery has chosen Carol H. Williams Advertising to introduce a new Gallo brand of cognac.

The Oakland, Calif., shop, which has focused mostly on campaigns targeting African Americans, will create general-market print ads expected to appear in early 2002.

Agency executives confirmed they were awarded a piece of Gallo business, but did not elaborate. Agency president Carol H. Williams said the relationship with Gallo has been good so far and could expand.

“They’ve really liked the agency and how we work,” she said. “We’ve had good meetings, and if the relationship continues, it may lead to other things.”

Executives who have worked on the account over the years often describe the family-owned winery as a demanding and capricious client. In April 2000, Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, resigned the account after seven years, siting “irreconcilable differences.” Eight months later, the account moved to Suissa Miller in Los Angeles, which designed a campaign for the Wild Vine Wine brand. The client has also parceled out a number of projects.

Gallo representatives did not return calls seeking comment. The principals at Suissa Miller declined comment.

Carol H. Williams, a 17-year-old shop, had about $65 million in billings last year. It recently landed a Frito-Lay assignment and the $3 million All-State Insurance of Chi cago account. Agency brass attributed the wins to their successful work in minority markets and old-school creative designed to move product.

“I grew up in the days when advertising was a lot of fun, but we didn’t do creative for the sake of creative,” said Williams, who started her advertising career at Leo Burnett in Chicago and later worked at FCB. “We did things to help brands have a long-term turnaround. I’ve always believed in that type of advertising.”