Jacobson Rost Tops 4 Agencies for First Alert

Jacobson Rost plans a $10 million effort later this spring for First Alert carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors, the agency said.

The Sheboygan, Wis., shop won the business following a review against four small to midsize shops, according to president Jerry Flemma.

Flemma said the agency’s campaign will “move away from some of the negativity” sometimes used to sell detectors. “Historically, the category has [pushed] scare tactics,” he said. “You need to educate people, not frighten them.”

The account had been at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis for several years, but that agency was not among finalists in the review, said Mark Colello, senior vp of sales for First Alert and BRK Brands, both divisions of Sunbeam.

Spending dropped off last year as the Rockford, Ill., company underwent management changes and re-evaluated its marketing strategy, Colello said. Those changes included a new president, Gwen Wisler, and Colello, who added marketing to his role late last year.

The evaluation of advertising led to the agency review and Jacobson Rost’s selection

“Jacobson Rost is a good fit,” said Colello. He cited the agency’s experience working with dealers and contractors, a key segment for BRK Electronics. That unit offers “contractor grade” products, generally hard-wired alarms that go into construction projects.

The agency’s win includes public-relations work, as well as media buying and planning, Colello said.

First Alert’s main competitors, Kidde and Firex, are not well-known consumer brand names. First Alert saw sales dip when it ceased advertising last year, prompting this year’s much larger effort, Colello said.