Frankel Direct Wins Consumers Energy

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Frankel, Chicago, an integrated direct, branding and promotions agency, became the direct agency of record Monday for Michigan's largest public utility, Consumers Energy, Jackson, MI. Frankel Direct, the company's one-to-one marketing unit, is assuming all responsibilities for the account, including acquisition, retention, win-back and customer loyalty. Billings were estimated at $4.5 million.

Noting the assignment presented Frankel with the opportunity to create initiatives that "break new ground," Donna Tracy, senior vice president at Frankel Direct, said the agency had a unique reason for looking forward to handling the customer relationship management needs of Consumers Energy. Although she wouldn't divulge the details, Tracy said the majority of the focus would be on "helping Consumers Energy build its business and increase consumer loyalty [in the face of change]."

Presumably the new ground has to do with the eventual roll out of value-added appliance products and services when Michigan's utility industry becomes deregulated - a transition slated for the first quarter of 2002.

Terry Meirzwa, Consumers Energy's director of marketing, said the utility needed to sharpen its message. "Deregulation is just around the corner, and we are continuing to expand our portfolio of value-added products and services," Terry said. "The direct marketing and promotion experience of Frankel Direct will be critical to our future success, given the growing competition in the marketplace and the challenge of reaching customers with a clear, compelling message."

Consumers Energy's current lineup of customer products and services includes the Appliance Service Plan program, heating and cooling contractor referrals and carbon monoxide alarm sales. Consumers Energy, the fourth-largest combined gas and electric utility in the United States, is a subsidiary of CMS Energy Corp., serving 6 million of Michigan's 9 1/2 million residents in all 68 of the state's lower peninsula counties.

Frankel employs 740 full-time employees. The company reported revenues of $94.5 million for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31. Clients include McDonald's, Visa, United Airlines, Target, Frito-Lay, Nestle and the U.S. Postal Service.

In January, Publicis SA, Paris, acquired Frankel.
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