LOUISVILLE, KY: The Commonwealth of Kentucky has awarded a local agency, New West, a $14-million-a-year contract to develop a branding, marketing, and advertising campaign for the entire state. Kentucky is combining those marketing budgets from all its agencies under one contract, beginning July 1.
The state appears to be one of the few to make such a bold move. In October, Oregon appointed Debbie Kennedy as director of Brand Oregon, a similar effort that is just rolling out.
New West, a PR, advertising, and marketing firm, will work with all state executive-branch cabinets and agencies, and also the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which is separately run by an elected official, to coordinate all communications efforts.
Phyllis Leibman, executive director of communications in the Commerce Cabinet, said the primary reason for the move was to build one brand for all the state functions, which have typically used different marketing agencies that created hundreds of logos and signs. The change in approach will also save money, she said.
Eighteen agencies applied for the job; they were first narrowed to seven and then two - New West and PriceWeber, also based in Louisville - which made final presentations on April 20.
New West has brought in Fitzgerald+Co., an Atlanta-based advertising and brand-development agency that is part of Interpublic, to work on brand development, media planning, and media buying for the account. (New West, which says it is the largest PR firm in Kentucky by billings, is an affiliate of IPG's Weber Shandwick.)
Becky Simpson, CEO of New West, said it was too early to tell what the exact elements of the campaign would be and how large a role PR would play.
"We're very excited about this," Simpson said. "It's an opportunity for us to make PR and advertising history."
In addition to New West and PriceWeber, the other contenders for the account were Creative Alliance, Doe Anderson, Meridian Communications, Paul Schultz Advertising, and TwoCan Marketing.
On Tuesday, New West announced that it had hired Kathleen Partlow as VP of public affairs, a position she most recently held at competitor Doe Anderson, but said that the hire was unrelated to the Kentucky contract.