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Campbell Soup Co. has appointed the Fitzgerald Cos., Atlanta, to handle an integrated marketing campaign for Vlasic pickles in the Southeast region, a first for the brand.

FCB/Leber Katz Partners, New York, still handles Vlasic's national advertising, expected to be $5 million this year. But Campbell chose an agency with more local vision for the Southeast push.

Woody Rosenbach, Campbell's senior marketing manager for condiments, said pickles are like potato chips. "Frito-Lay is the national brand competing with different regional brands ... just like Vlasic is the No. 1 national brand competing with a variety of smaller, local brands."

He said the Southeast campaign is expected to include advertising, special events, sales promotions and public relations. He declined to divulge spending.

Campbell faces frisky competition from Mt. Olive Pickle Co., a regional competitor in Mount Olive, N.C. Sales for the $514 million category fell 2.8% for the 52 weeks ended March 27, according to Information Resources Inc. Vlasic dropped 3.9% to $164 million. However, the Mt. Olive brand, third in national sales despite limited distribution, jumped 6.6% to $38.3 million.

"It's been an under-marketed category, and we're looking to remedy that," Mr. Rosenbach said.

Campbell began a national ad campaign last summer.

Mt. Olive spends little if anything on advertising, said Jon Kramer, president of marketing agency J. Brown/LMC Group, Stamford, Conn. "Campbell is making a very intelligent move by focusing on the consumer and trying to get their brand name recognized."

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