Black & Decker goes looking for a new image


Striving for a fresh image for the 84-year-old company and its power tools, Black & Decker Corp. has hired Fallon McElligott Inc., a Minneapolis agency known for its unconventional advertising approach.

"Innovation thinking is something we were really looking for," said Ellen S. Foreman, director of marketing communication for the Towson-based power tool and appliance company. "They really challenged our thinking," she said.

Fallon will be handling the advertising for Black & Decker's North American Power Tools Group, which encompasses all of the company's nonprofessional power tools, lawn and car care equipment and accessories. The division's total advertising budget is $14 million, according to advertising trade publications. Normally an ad agency receives a 15 percent commission on total billings.

Advertising for Black & Decker's DeWalt brand of power tools, which is aimed at professional builders, is a separate account handled by Eisner & Associates Inc. of Baltimore.

The power tools account had been handled for the last seven years by the Leo Burnett agency in Chicago, one of the country's largest advertising companies.

"It was a matter that we were sort at a crossroads and we wanted to think in new ways," Ms. Foreman said about Burnett. "It was definitely mutual."

The company considered 65 different agencies before selecting Fallon, Ms. Foreman said.

Black & Decker, which is the seventh-most-recognized brand name in the United States, is the behemoth of the power tool business controlling nearly half of the market. The Fortune 500 company had sales last year of $4.9 billion and is the second-largest industrial company in Maryland.

"It's a very famous brand," said Mark D. Goldstein, president of integrated marketing for Fallon. "I think they wanted a level of out-of-the-box thinking that they weren't able to find at Burnett," he said.

Fallon is well known for its offbeat commercials, which have included a swimming elephant stealing a diet Coke from a raft and a person singing opera while putting on Lee jeans.

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