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Fort james corp.'s Dixie plates brand hadn't had TV advertising for more than three years when Bill Schultz, 36, came to the company in 1997 as VP-general manager, tabletop brands.

Mr. Schultz, who formerly worked on M&M/Mars' Uncle Ben's Rice and Procter & Gamble Co.'s cleaning and laundry brands, brought with him a strong track record for supporting his brands.

He also had a new marketing direction. For Dixie paper plates, he saw the competition not simply as other paper plates but as dishes and the obligatory cleanup. Mr. Schultz, as a former Dawn dishwashing detergent brand manager, took aim at his old brand, among others, in launching TV ads from DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, and positioning Dixie paper plates as the tableware component of "home cleanup replacement." They support the new name for the lower-cost line, Dixie Everyday.

After running regionally last summer, the Dixie campaign expanded nationally in September. In advertised markets, Dixie brand awareness was up 10 percentage points, from 83% to 93%, and the percentage of consumers listing Dixie as their most frequently purchased plate brand doubled from 4% to 8% through February.

Sales for the quarter ending April 12 were up 6.1% from a year ago, even with the percentage of units sold on off-price promotion down 32%.

A joint "Don't Do Dishes Day" promotion with Reynolds Metals Co. last month, backed by advertising and in-store support, marks the next step in what Mr. Schultz sees as the evolution of the brand.

"I'd like to get to the point where the phrase `Let's have a Dixie Day' enters the lexicon," he says, "so that if someone just takes a day off and relaxes, they think of it as taking a Dixie day."

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