Exclusive: G-P prepares largest ever ad offensive

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Georgia-Pacific Corp. is set to introduce line extensions and upgrades for three key brands and is expected to back the initiative with $100 million in ad support.

Brawny paper towels, Quilted Northern bathroom tissue and Dixie tabletop products are the beneficiaries of the company's largest-ever marketing offensive.

A big chunk of the total will support improved products that ship to retailers in November. The improvements to Brawny and Quilted Northern, backed by $500 million in capital spending, will put those products at least in parity with Procter & Gamble Co.'s category-leading Bounty and Charmin, said Andrei Mikhalevsky, Georgia-Pacific's president, North American retail.

brawny's new look

G-P is testing copy from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Fallon, New York, for Brawny, and from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York, for Quilted Northern. The `70's-era Brawny man will get a modernized look.

Various Georgia-Pacific brands will also participate in a tie-in ABC's "The View," in an episode that will be shot in a home, Mr. Mikhalevsky said.

G-P might also retire the Quilted Northern quilters, its nearly decade-old animated icons. "We have a lot of equity in the quilters," said VP-Marketing Rob Lorys. "But . . . we're being very open-minded."

Dixie will enter consumer food-storage with a DixieWare line of disposable containers. A recently launched line of Dixie storage containers for the food-service market includes containers that have interchangeable tops and bottoms to solve the problems caused by the loss of either. A recent note from Deutsche Securities analyst Andrew Shore predicted that microwave-vented containers are also likely to be part of the line.

DixieWare joins several other brand extensions for Georgia-Pacific over the balance of this year, including Brawny Fresh-kins, the brand's first ever extension into moist towelettes; Brawny Heavy Duty Cleaning Towels; and Vanity Fair Linensoft Tablecovers. The Brawny products were developed at the urging of retail heavyweight Wal-Mart Stores, Mr. Mikhalevsky said.

recruiting drive

Over the last two years, Georgia-Pacific has tried to increase its marketing savvy by recruiting executives from P&G, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola Co., Unilever and General Mills. The marketing services unit alone has added five managers in a variety of areas, including e-marketing, Mr. Lorys said.

The company didn't disclose spending, but Mr. Lorys said G-P plans "a significant increase" in marketing behind the push. Total 2004 spending is likely to exceed $100 million. Georgia-Pacific spent $76 million last year on media in the U.S., according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, and $222 million on advertising globally, according to company reports.

One analyst was skeptical, noting that Georgia-Pacific has been promising a marketing onslaught practically since it acquired Fort James. "The question," he said, "is when will we see it?"

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