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The merger of James River Corp. and Fort Howard Corp. could mean more marketing support and an ad agency for Fort Howard's value brands.

"Very clearly, the approach we've been taking with our consumer products business is to increase the focus on advertising and branding," said Jim Goodwin, president of North American consumer products for James River. He now will also head the consumer products business of the newly dubbed Fort James.

James River is boosting spending on its own premium brands, said Mr. Goodwin.


The $5.8 billion merger announced last week comes as James River prepares to break new ad campaigns for its Quilted Northern bathroom tissue and Dixie cups and plates in late May or early June.

He wouldn't say how much James River is increasing spending on Quilted Northern or Dixie paper products; he also would not discuss details of the new ads.

DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, handles James River's consumer brands, which also include Brawny paper towels and Vanity Fair napkins.

Part of the Fort Howard consideration will be whether to appoint an agency for those brands, which include Mardi Gras paper towels, Soft & Gentle bath tissue and Green Forest tissue products.

Fort Howard has not had an agency, and its media advertising has been limited to newspaper inserts.

While Mr. Goodwin said he's pleased with DDB Needham's work, he stopped short of saying it would automatically get any new assignments.

"We've got some good copy coming out from them," Mr. Goodwin said. "We're increasing the spending behind that copy. There's nothing we see in our own business that says we want not to [assign Fort Howard accounts to DDB Needham]. That's where we start from."

The merger, which must still be approved by shareholders and federal regulators, would create the No. 2 player in the $2.2 billion paper towel category, behind Procter & Gamble Co. and ahead of Kimberly-Clark Corp.

The deal also would solidify the No. 3 position for Fort James, behind P&G and K-C, in the $3.5 billion bathroom tissue category.

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