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J.W. Messner Inc. is the early big winner in Chevrolet's drive toward fewer, larger dealer regions.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., agency has won eight of 11 new regional accounts. The 17 other regions will be holding their reviews in the coming months.

Taken as a whole, the 28 regions represent about $300 million in annual ad spending.


The Chevy wins will push Messner's total annual billings past $100 million, up from about $80 million in 1996, said Exec VP Dan Fletcher.

"This shows that good regional shops have been able to be responsive to dealers," Mr. Fletcher said.

Messner's latest victory came last week when the Northern California Area Marketing Group tapped the agency.

Messner plans to open an office in San Francisco to handle its newest win, Mr. Fletcher said. The agency now handles all of California; it earlier won the southern part of the state without a review.

The General Motors Corp. division had 86 agencies handling its 206 smaller Dealer Marketing Groups. Messner had about 40, more than any other shop. In 1994, Chevy started an 18-month test using national agency Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., for 12 regional dealer groups. That effort ended in `96, about the time Chevy started a review to trim dealer group shops to convey a more unified brand message and reduce ad production costs.

Also last week, Cuneo, Sullivan, Dolbany, Boston, won the region that includes Boston.

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