- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

The Independent Insurance Agents of America is insuring a new brand for itself.

The Alexandria association with 24,000 members, is focusing on its new "Trusted Choice" brand and spending up to $10 million to get consumers aware of it.

IIAA has hired Williams Whittle Associates, also of Alexandria, and Goldberg Marchesano Partners in the District to handle the national campaign, that will explain what Trusted Choice is all about.

"It's an unknown name for an old idea," says Rob Whittle, president of Williams Whittle.

IIAA will focus its new brand on three qualities of the independent agent: the advocacy of an agent working for a client rather than a particular agency, their ability to customize a client's coverage and having a choice of different products.

Agents will sign up and pay a fee to become part of the Trusted Choice name, says Maureen Wall, vice president of communications at IIAA.

Mr. Whittle says a test campaign will start running during the first quarter of 2002 in three markets: Louisville, Ky.; Seattle, and Baton Rouge, La. After a six- to eight-week test, the campaign will roll out nationally.

"The launch of Trusted Choice has been two years in the making," Ms Wall says. "Our members and insurance company partners see this effort as our best opportunity to educate people as to the real value of using an independent now Trusted Choice insurance agent."

Saying thanks

Choice Hotels International is kicking off a promotional campaign today to stimulate travel again in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The "Thanks for Traveling" campaign is not specifically promoting the Choice Hotels brands but is being paid for by the Silver Spring company. The campaign is being endorsed by organizations like the American Society of Travel Agents, the U.S. Tour Operators Association and vacation.com.

The U.S. travel industry is taking one of the biggest hits stemming from the attacks as people have cut back dramatically on their travel including overnight stays at hotels.

Mayor makes TV appeal

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is urging tourists to come back to Washington in his six-minute address that began airing on Channel 16 on Friday.

The local economy has been stung in the days since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as many would-be tourists have stayed home. Mr. Williams is urging D.C. residents to encourage their friends and family to visit the city.

"Since the attacks of September 11th, our local economy has suffered an alarming slowdown," he says. "And if we don't act quickly, we face the potential for long-term effects."

In the District, hotel occupancy is down by more than 50 percent, restaurants are cutting hours and supply orders and hospitality workers are losing their jobs, he says.

Mr. Williams also calls for the immediate reopening of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which has been shut down since the attacks.

The address, which aired about 10 times a day this past weekend, can still be seen on Channel 16.

Towson firm wins three

Azzam Jordan Inc. has picked up three new clients adding about $3 million in billings for the Towson, Md.-based ad agency.

Azzam Jordan is agency of record for Bill Bateman's Bistro, a chain of six restaurants in the Greater Baltimore area, White House/Black Market, a 70-store chain of women's clothing boutiques featuring white clothes on one side of the store and black clothes on the other.

The ad agency will also handle the advertising for the National Grand Prix in Washington, which will be held in July 2002.

More wins

• MGH Advertising and Public Relations will handle the advertising for Papa John's Charlotte, N.C., territory, adding about $1 million in billings to the Baltimore agency. MGH handles the advertising for six other Papa John's territories.

cThe Outdoor Advertising Association of America has handed two of its 2001 OBIE awards to Adworks Inc. in the District and the Martin Agency in Richmond. The OBIE awards recognize creative excellence in outdoor advertising.

• Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other week.

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