Aluminum Association mulls agency hire for branding campaign

WASHINGTON: The Aluminum Association (AA) is on the hunt for an agency to lead an industry-wide branding campaign. However, the group still may decide against such a campaign because it is concerned that similar efforts by other organizations have not delivered worthwhile results.

WASHINGTON: The Aluminum Association (AA) is on the hunt for an agency to lead an industry-wide branding campaign. However, the group still may decide against such a campaign because it is concerned that similar efforts by other organizations have not delivered worthwhile results.

The AA issued an RFP earlier this summer to a handful of DC agencies, inviting them to present their ideas for a campaign that would boost aluminum's profile among consumers and legislators. According to a spokesman, the first round of pitches has ended, but research is still being conducted that will determine whether the association will go ahead with the campaign at all.

"We're trying to analyze whether an effective awareness campaign could translate into a raised level of product sales," said AA VP of public affairs Robin King. "Those are two

different things. You can get out a lot of new information and raise awareness without necessarily affecting sales."

According to AA research, net shipments by US and Canadian aluminum manufacturers fell 3.9% from June 2002 to June 2003, while aluminum production in North America decreased by 0.5% in July 2003. Shipments of aluminum mill products also dropped 3% in the last year. The industry operates more than 300 plants in 35 states, and produces more than 23 billion pounds of metal annually, while employing about 145,000 people with an annual payroll of about $5 billion.

King said his industry's hesitation to pour money into a potentially pricey awareness campaign was justified by an inconsistent record of returns from similar efforts.

"Many basic-materials industries have done consumer-awareness campaigns, and not all have, according to our information, directly affected sales," he offered. "What we are trying to do is better understand the relationship between consumer-awareness branding and movement in those markets."

The AA currently uses two firms - Stratacomm and Hill & Knowlton - for different projects. King would not name the firms currently involved in the pitching process.

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