New York Agency Also Captures Larger New-Product Assignment

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CINCINNATI ( -- Georgia-Pacific Corp. has awarded the Seiden Group, New York, its Brawny and Vanity Fair paper napkin advertising account along with a potentially far bigger prize -- a new-product assignment spanning all of the company's consumer brands.

Spending wasn't disclosed, but Atlanta-based G-P's consumer brands in total will likely spend more than $80 million on measured media this year, largely on major new-product launches or upgrades for the Brawny, Quilted Northern and Angel Soft brands. The marketer spent $40.3 million on measured media through the first five months of 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Develop effort through launch
Unlike most other new-product assignments in the industry, in which the new-product shop hands off the account to the brand agency of record for launch, Seiden will handle the new products it helps develop all the way through launch, a G-P spokesman said.

The napkin incumbent, Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, New York, dropped out of the review this summer. Fallon remains agency of record, however, on G-P paper towel brands, including Brawny and Sparkle. Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York, will continue to handle the marketer's toilet-paper brands, including Quilted Northern and Angel Soft.

New categories
Rob Lorys, G-P's vice president of marketing, said Fallon and DDB will continue to handle new-product work for the tissue and towel brands they handle. Likewise, DDB, which also handles G-P's Dixie business, is expected to keep handling new product launches there. But Seiden will handle new products in napkins and yet-to-be-revealed new categories under development, Mr. Lorys said.

The assignment comes as Georgia-Pacific looks to step up its new-product innovation both in napkins and broadly across the company.

"Georgia-Pacific as a company has not been known historically for making great strides or innovation or new products in the consumer products segment," Mr. Lorys said. "We've really put a lot of energy behind this and have built up quite a pipeline of new-products. ... We decided this was going to put added stress on agencies we currently have in the stable, so we decided we need to reach out and hire an additional agency."

Ramping up new products
"Probably the single most focused initiative we've had in the consumer products business has been to ramp up our new products and innovation team over the last two to three years," said Michael Adams, director of marketing for napkins. "As such, the time was right for us to leverage an agency not only to work on base napkin issues but also come in and really support some of the introductions that will be coming out of the innovation group over the next 12 to 18 months."

Among the first product launches Seiden will handle is a new Vanity Fair initiative scheduled for the back half of 2005, Mr. Adams said. While napkins may be viewed as a stable, staple category with little opportunity for innovation, he believes there's ample opportunity to expand with products such as Brawny Napkins in a Box, launched earlier this year.

Hoping for 'tremendous upside'
But only about 60% of U.S. households buy paper napkins, with the rest relying on paper towels or cloth napkins, he said. "So there's tremendous upside in terms of growing the businesses here by delivering against consumer needs."

The premium segment of the napkin business, including Brawny and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Bounty, "is really starting to gain traction," he said, "with both [brands] showing some of the healthiest growth in the category" and Brawny trailing by about a share point.

Mr. Adams also wants to rejuvenate Vanity Fair in a super-premium segment viewed largely as for special occasions only.

"We were looking for an agency with strong strategic thinking, with the ability to link consumer insight through to creative," Mr. Adams said. "We were looking for an agency that was very comfortable in nontraditional media. We were looking for an agency with expertise, or at least experience, in bringing in-store activity to life and both base category support and innovation."

He declined to name other contestants for the assignment.