Rent-Way Names Hitchcock Fleming as Agency

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Rent-Way Inc., the nation's No. 2 chain of rental-purchase goods, has named Hitchcock Fleming & Associates as its agency of record on an account with billings of more than $20 million.

Four agencies sought the account, though incumbent Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, MO, did not participate. The new agency is charged with building store traffic and customer loyalty.

"They're coming into the busiest season of the year and trying to get the doors swinging," said Jack DeLeo, president/CEO of Hitchcock Fleming, Akron, OH.

Rent-Way, Erie, PA, is banking on Hitchcock Fleming's history in retail advertising.

The 61-year-old agency has clients like home-improvement chain Carter Lumber, Papa Johns, FirstMerit and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which it shares with Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Capitalized billings last year were $55 million.

Rent-Way aims to be the preferred brand in the rent-to-own market. The company has 1,100 retail locations. It rents furniture, Gateway computers and other appliances as well as home entertainment items on a weekly basis. Rent-Way customers often have not established credit or may need items for short-term use.

Hitchcock Fleming will offer marketing, research, creative, media buying and planning, public relations, database marketing and interactive through its Buzzwerks division.

Media vehicles include television, direct mail, radio, print, point of sale and possibly the Internet. Rent-Way currently undertakes direct marketing via mail pieces each month to existing and potential customers.

"A good portion of the budget will be going to direct mail," DeLeo said. "There will be a direct mail piece that goes out. We have a three-month campaign and each [month] with a direct mail piece."

He would not disclose the size of the mailing, but said it was in the "hundreds of thousands." A mail-based promotion later this month will go to names on the house files as well as prospects from rented lists. A full-fledged campaign begins Oct. 1.

"We need to really totally understand who their customers are and to know what buttons to push," DeLeo said.

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