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Thunder Factory Wins Fleetwood RV, San Jose U

Fleetwood Enterprises' RV division named Thunder Factory its agency of record to expand the brand's appeal beyond baby boomers and retirees.

The agency competed with four shops, including incumbent Porter Novelli's Los Angeles office, which still handles public relations for the manufactured-housing business for Fleetwood, Riverside, CA.

“What they really want to do is expand their customer base and bring a whole new base of customers into the experience,” said Patrick Di Chiro, chairman/CEO of Thunder Factory, San Mateo, CA.

The 3-year-old agency will handle PR, branding, promotions, partnership marketing, product placement and interactive. An improved Web site is under works to better target consumers and dealers.

Though Fleetwood RV is strong in the baby boomer and retirees segments, it aims to reach affluent people.

“They're also looking for younger, more upscale families who may not have considered an RV before,” Di Chiro said.

For example, the motor sports market is of interest, especially to owners who stow their bikes on recreational vehicles.

Separately, Thunder Factory also won business from San Jose State University. The agency is to develop an integrated marketing strategy and program to push the university's Campus Village, a housing facility with bells and whistles due for a fall 2005 opening.

Ten agencies were asked to submit proposals, and five went on to pitch. Two reached the final round. There was no incumbent.

“The mandate is to fill the beds,” Di Chiro said.

Roughly 50 percent to 60 percent of the advertising is devoted to online. Banners, e-mails to names on university and rented databases and a Web site will form the bulwark of the marketing outreach. The agency also plans special events to build the e-mail database.

The other overture mainly is public relations.

Targets for this effort are students, plus faculty and staff who are single or couples.

“Secondarily, our mandate is to enhance and expand the university's reputation,” Di Chiro said. “They're known principally as a state university and principally as a commuter school, and they've been adding a lot of facilities and programs and really elevating the whole experience and image of the university, including a new multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art library.”

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