Hoover appoints O&M to sharpen its European image

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MERTHYR TYDFIL, Wales -- Hoover European Appliance Group, the domestic appliances company now owned by the Italian Candy, has appointed Ogilvy & Mather to its European advertising account and allocated a significantly bigger ad budget to back the launch of new products next year.

O&M, London beat fellow WPP agency J Walter Thompson, London in the final shoot-out for the $8m business. Leo Burnett, London had resigned the account in July because of creative differences with parent company Candy.

Charles Gordon, European marketing director, based at Hoover's European headquarters in Merthyr Tydfil, Mid-Glamorgan in South Wales, ran the three-month review but Candy executives were also involved.

Hoover claims the appointment of O&M marks a crucial stage in the strategic plan for the Hoover brand, following its acquisition by Candy in 1995. Investment in U.K. manufacturing sites, such as $22.6m spent on the Merthyr Tydfil factory, has sharpened new product development, producing several new launches already and four more planned for 1998.

The O&M work is now expected to position the Hoover brand more clearly in the European marketplace. "[This] marks the beginning of a new era for the Hoover brand," says Managing Director Alberto Bertali. "It underlines the vision that we have for the Hoover brand in the future." No details are available yet on when first advertising from the new agency will appear, or on media allocation.

In recent years, Hoover has run mainly black and white print ads, though it went on TV in the U.K., France and Germany to support new products earlier this year.

Five years ago, Hoover suffered a marketing disaster in the U.K. when a $77.5m promotion, offering free flights to the U.S. or Europe to customers spending over $162 on a Hoover product, failed to deliver and led to the departures of several senior executives.

However, Hoover Communications Manager Caroline Knight claims the O&M advertising will not be an attempt to relaunch the brand, following on from that marketing catastrophe. "That was very much in the past. It was prior to the purchase by Candy and has no relevance to any moves the company makes today," she says.

She also denies that the company has kept a deliberately low advertising profile since then.

New Hoover products that have debuted this year include the Pure Power, Micro Power and Acenta Stick Cleaner vacuums.

The U.S. Hoover organization, based in North Canton, Ohio, is owned by the Maytag Corporation and is a separate entity, having sold its European arm to Candy.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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