Ashland picks Northlich to steer rebranding program

COVINGTON, KY: Ashland, a company once known for oil refining and coal mining, has hired Northlich, a Cincinnati-based integrated agency, to handle its corporate rebranding program.

COVINGTON, KY: Ashland, a company once known for oil refining and coal mining, has hired Northlich, a Cincinnati-based integrated agency, to handle its corporate rebranding program.

COVINGTON, KY: Ashland, a company once known for oil refining and coal mining, has hired Northlich, a Cincinnati-based integrated agency, to handle its corporate rebranding program.

The campaign, which Ashland hopes will modernize its image, is using advertising, PR, IR and internal communications to deliver its new tag line 'The Who in How Things Work.' The line was developed by Northlich in a previous, non-retained project for the company.

Ashland, which had dollars 6 billion in annual sales in 1999, has in the last three years undergone a major restructuring overseen by chairman and CEO Paul Chellgren. The reorganization included selling its oil exploration and production activities, and creating a new company (of which it owns 38%) to handle oil refining and marketing.

Ashland now has only four business lines left: chemical distribution, specialty chemicals, road construction and its Valvoline line of products.

J. Dan Lacy, VP of corporate affairs, wouldn't discuss how much Ashland is spending on the campaign. But given the scope of the program and similar efforts undertaken by others, the tab is likely to be in the millions.

For example, Arthur Andersen is spending dollars 2 million in PR alone for its rebranding efforts this year. And Andersen Consulting, which is splitting from its sister company and will begin promoting its new name - Accenture - in January, plans to spend dollars 100 million on its marketing efforts.

Ashland's campaign to communicate its new identity is focusing on its 25,000 employees and their customer relationships, Lacy said. A new intranet site and corporate magazine were created to communicate with employees, carrying stories about the staff in each weekly edition. Additionally, a series of ads featuring employees will run through February 2001. 'Advertising is a tool in our overall PR efforts,' Lacy said.



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