McKinney, Utility Sever Ties

By Nora FitzGerald

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Carolina Power & Light has ended its 25-year relationship with McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., and is placing its $3 million account in review.

M&S president Don Maurer said that the agency and the utility ‘mutually agreed to part ways’ when a new regime was installed. CP&L has a new president, Bill Kavanaugh, and a new marketing director, Nancy Temple. They could not be reached for comment last week.

CP&L manager of customer communications Steve Volstad confirmed the company is in the preliminary stages of a review.

‘We thought it was the right time for a change,’ he said.

‘We do some work with Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods,’ Volstad added. ‘So we may go through a search, or just use (CJRW) or some combination of both. We have not formally decided what we’re going to do.’ He said that it was conceivable that Little Rock, Ark.-based CJRW would open an office in Raleigh.

Utility companies are going through a great deal of upheaval with deregulation on the horizon, according to industry analysts.

‘We’re setting the stage for more aggressive marketing,’ said Volstad,

‘especially if full-scale retail competition takes place.’

McKinney & Silver’s contract expires June 10. ‘We’re going to take our time and do this right,’ Volstad said.

Meanwhile, M&S president Maurer said that his agency wants another utility.

‘We’d love to find another partner who believes in the importance of branding over the next few years,’ he said.

This is the second North Carolina utility to recently end a long relationship with its agency. Last week Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy reported it had resigned Duke Power Co. after a seven-year run. Duke is going through a merger with Houston-based gas utility PanEnergy Corp., and was handling its advertising this year on a project basis. –with Jim Osterman

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