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JWT OPENS HUNT FOR NEW CLIENTS: DETROIT UNIT TOUTS ITS RESEARCH ON 'CENTRAL AMERICA'

By Published on .

Detroit unit touts its research on `Central America'The Detroit office of J. Walter Thompson USA kicks off an aggressive new-business push this month, part of a plan to double its non-Ford Motor Co. billings to $300 million in the next four years.

The shop's non-Ford billings have doubled to $150 million in the past 12 months. JWT Detroit is the first in what will eventually be a networkwide effort to boost billings, said Steve Brown, general manager and exec VP overseeing the non-Ford business.

VIDEOS AND POSTCARDS

JWT Detroit will begin sending a new video and postcard touting its capabilities to current and potential clients. Mr. Brown said there are opportunities for new clients in consumer electronics; health and well-being; home improvement; home and garden; and auto maintenance.

The effort includes a new Web site (http://www.jwtdet.com), which went up last week and carries the "Central America" theme.

That phrase also alludes to the customers of current clients such as Ford, Sherwin-Williams Co.'s paint retailers, Kohl's Corp., White Castle Systems restaurants and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., who are the subjects of proprietary JWT consumer research. The shop also hired Audits & Surveys for additional research.

"You probably heard [these consumers] referred to as middle America, but that's an old demographic we think belittles them," Mr. Brown said. "These people are central to the American dream. That's why we call it Central America. It's not a place. It's a state of mind."

MOSTLY MALE

The consumers identified by the research have annual household incomes of $35,000 to $45,000, and are 75% male. Accordingly, "Cen-tral Americans" shop more at hardware, consumer electronic, automotive supply, sporting and home center stores than malls.

But Mr. Brown said he expects the demographics to evolve with more research.

Advertising consultant Herb Zeltner said the more any agency can learn about customers the better.

"That is very much the theme running through the business today," he said, adding that the data are only valuable if they help clients.

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