F-H nets Rubbermaid's global corporate work

ATLANTA: Newell Rubbermaid (NR) has selected Fleishman-Hillard as the first global corporate AOR in the company's history.

ATLANTA: Newell Rubbermaid (NR) has selected Fleishman-Hillard as the first global corporate AOR in the company's history.

David Doolittle, corporate communications director at NR, said the firm will handle corporate and consumer work for Rubbermaid's various brands as part of the one-year, automatically renewing agreement.

Fleishman beat out three "well-known top 10 agencies," said Doolittle. "We chose Fleishman on consumer and corporate expertise. They did their homework and showed an understanding of our consumer segment and target consumers. They also showed an ability to take on [our] broad range of brands."

In September, when the company sent an RFP to four firms (PRWeek, October 16), it was initially a corporate AOR search. But Doolittle said that evolved into a search for an agency that all of the company's brands and business units could utilize in a "best practices manner to carry out individual and joint campaigns."

Doolittle said Fleishman will work on corporate reputation issues in the US and internationally.

"We are initiating a larger philanthropic platform, a very important element of overall corporate reputation," he said. "Also, we have a new director of diversity and inclusion and we'll definitely work to leverage visibility for the programs for our diverse workforce and our inclusive workforce internationally."

Most of NR's business - 85% - comes from the US.

From a consumer standpoint, Doolittle said, the work will combine high-profile individual brand programs and "making connections between brands at key times of the year, such as back-to-school."

Karen Kaplan, GM and senior partner at Fleishman, said NR "is a great fit for us with our global reach and capabilities." The account is being led out of the firm's Atlanta office by Kaplan's corporate team, with help from Fleishman's New York and St. Louis offices.

NR opted to select a corporate AOR at this time to assist in bringing CEO Mark Ketchum's "vision of strategy" for growing the company and expanding internationally to fruition.

"He has a vision for leveraging our 'consumer meaningful' brands, for understanding consumer trends, and bringing new and innovative products to market in response to the trends," Doolittle explained. "This is an opportunity for us to have one preferred agency for our network globally that knows our business, and allows the brands to utilize them as they'd like to. Obviously there would be synergies if that happened, but the brands have the flexibility to do what they want."

Bringing on a corporate AOR is not the only change the company is making. "In 2006, we did expand the corporate communications team to prepare for this increased programming that [will] be taking place," Doolittle added.

In October, Esther Lippman, senior manager of PR at NR, told PRWeek that the company's 12 to 15 key brands work with a variety of agencies ranging in size from large to boutique, but declined to name them.

Doolittle, who was overseas last week meeting with Fleishman's London office to discuss strategic counsel for international programs, said all of the brands can utilize Fleishman in a best-practices manner for individual or joint programs. He added that the brands helped in the agency selection process. "They had an equal vote," he said.

"There are some legacy agencies working with our brands. Those relationships may continue if the brands feel that they meet their needs," Doolittle said. "Amerock, Rubbermaid Food Service, and Rubbermaid Home products are already in 2007 plan development, with other brands likely to follow."

Doolittle expects to see these programs go to market in the first quarter of 2007.

"Those are the ones we're currently working with and developing direct-to-consumer and b-to-b programs for and moving forward on," Kaplan said. "Goody and maybe some of the others down the road [will follow]. It will be international work."

Doolittle said that he could not discuss financial terms of the agreement because the company is still in the early stages of determining the number of brands the agency will work with and the level of work it will do.

Other NR brands include Sharpie, Expo, Paper Mate, Lenox, Graco, and Irwin.

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