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A collision, in a manner of speaking, between efforts for General Cigar Co.'s Macanudo spurred Manhattan ad agency McCaffery Ratner Gottlieb & Lane to launch a new division, MRGL/360.

The four-person group, led by Alexander Hoffert, most recently client director, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Marketing Drive, Wilton, Conn., brings sales promotion and direct marketing under the boutique agency's roof. "We've done some sales promotion and direct marketing in the past," said Jerry Gottlieb, managing partner, client services. "But now we have a genuine expertise."

The catalyst came from the client. Since 1990, General Cigar Co. has relied on the agency's creative to advertise its cigar brands, including the well-known Macanudo, in print. A separate company handled promotional efforts. At the client's behest, the agencies collaborated, taking the shop's "America's Passion" Macanudo campaign and adapting it to a bus-tour promotion to create the Macanudo American Passion Tour. Its success led McCaffery Ratner to build its in-house sales and marketing group. General Cigar consolidated its $3 million to $5 million advertising and promotion budget with the agency.

"The formation of MRGL/360 assures us that our advertising and sales promotion will be executed with a sense of seamless quality," said General Cigar Exec VP-Sales and Marketing David Danziger.

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