Cold Stone selects quartet of firms for comms efforts

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Cold Stone Creamery has picked a four-agency team to handle its PR efforts across the US.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Cold Stone Creamery has picked a four-agency team to handle its PR efforts across the US.

The firms selected were Hunter in New York, Chicago-based Dome Communications, R&R Partners in Phoenix, and San Francisco-based Landis Communications.

Cold Stone, a franchisor of ice-cream shops that is in the midst of rapid US expansion, spoke with dozens of firms late last year before selecting the four winners, said Kevin Donnellan, communications manager.

The finalists were asked to devise ideas about how to get the ice-cream chain mentioned on such major TV shows as Oprah and The Late Show with David Letterman.

"We're in a fun business and we wanted to have agencies on board who are fun to work with," Donnellan said. "We were looking for vendors and partners whose core values as a company matched ours."

The agencies have already met with Cold Stone franchisees at an annual meeting earlier this month. They have also begun PR efforts to support the rollout of a new flavor, Sinless Sweet Cream - a fat-free, no-sugar offering.

Donnellan said each agency will likely have three to five people working on the account. Firms will work with Cold Stone area developers - who sell franchises - in their regions, as well as with local marketing co-ops.

Cold Stone does no TV or print ads, so PR "is really the cornerstone of all we do," said Donnellan.

Cold Stone has 530 stores across the US and has sold rights to 800 more. It expects to open 450 stores this year. Annual sales have increased from $45 million in 2001 to an estimated $145 million to $150 million in 2003. The company is privately held.

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