Billington's snags Fogarty for sugar launch

HOUSTON: Billington's has chosen Fogarty Kline & Partners over a host of local competitors to head the PR-only launch of the company's brown sugars in the United States.

HOUSTON: Billington's has chosen Fogarty Kline & Partners over a host of local competitors to head the PR-only launch of the company's brown sugars in the United States.

Texas-based Imperial Sugar will distribute the British brand beginning with an October-through-March test in the Houston area. As part of the test, four premium Billington's sugars will be sold in the region's upscale grocery stores, said Fogarty's Anne Brimberry.

The agency beat out local rival Rives Carlberg (which counts Dr. Pepper among its clients) and other unnamed firms for the account. Billings were not disclosed.

Nancy Barbee, Imperial's director of corporate marketing, said the company only considered Houston-based firms with national capabilities. Barbee cited Fogarty's work with other clients in the food sector as one of the major reasons the agency was selected.

Imperial will rely solely on PR for the test-market launch. 'We just felt like ... the education aspects would carry more weight as PR than they would if we bought advertising,' Barbee said.

The national introduction is also scheduled to emphasize PR. She added, however, that Billington's 'may throw in a little advertising' to support PR during next year's tentative national launch.

Fogarty has also been tapped to provide PR for the October 28 grand opening of Katy Mills mall. The 1.3 million square-foot entertainment and shopping center is located 25 miles west of Houston and owned by the Mills Corp.

Although Fogarty's agreement with Katy Mills expires at year's end, agency spokeswoman Bettie DeBruhl said the firm looks forward to extending the relationship.

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