- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Washington Times regularly receives attention-getting marketing ploys from companies hungry for press coverage: trinkets such as confetti-filled boxes, candy and champagne to scissors, plants and bobbleheads.

But the newspaper takes notice when it receives a truly creative gimmick.

Barwood Taxi has done just that.

The Kensington cab company is giving away jars of blueberry preserves called “Traffic Jam” to commemorate its 40 years in business. The company spent about $1,500 on 720 jars of the blueberry jam from McCutcheon Apple Products Inc. in Frederick, Md. Vanessa Curtin, Barwood’s office manager, came up with the jam’s name.

When Barwood started, the company had 22 taxis. The Capital Beltway was under construction and traffic congestion wasn’t an issue.

Times have changed. The company has 435 taxis and handles 4,000 calls a day and 1.2 million trips annually. Now the Beltway is jammed with commuters and congestion is always an issue.

“It’s not easy to build a successful people-driven, customer service company in a demanding urban area and keep it strong over four decades — especially in the face of intense traffic congestion and heavy government regulation,” said Lee Barnes, president and chief executive officer of Blue Star Inc., Barwood’s parent company.

Last week the Montgomery County Council approved measures that would increase competition by adding new cab licenses. Barwood is the largest cab company in the county.

Also, cabs would be required to pick up a percentage of customers within a certain time after receiving the call or scheduled pickup.

The anniversary jam was sent to Montgomery County politicos and Maryland’s top officials including Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran “to remind them gently and with humor that we are all still stuck in traffic,” said Charlie Maier, who handles public relations for Barwood.

New wins

• Lee’s Ice Cream has hired Walczy Hamilton Tran of Bethesda to help market the Baltimore company’s expansion into supermarkets and convenience stores.

• Micros Systems Inc., which provides information technology for the hospitality and retail industries, named Marriner Marketing Communications as its ad agency. Marriner will develop a branding campaign that will target key decision makers in the hospitality industry. Both firms are based in Columbia, Md.

• JDG Communications Inc., based in Falls Church, won three new federal contacts. JDG will create a public-awareness campaign about Internet fraud for the Federal Trade Commission. The agency will conduct research for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Marketing and Customer Service. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard selected JDG to design an interactive Web-based recruitment campaign.

In other news

Crosby Marketing Communications in Annapolis acquired Low + Associates, a Chevy Chase marketing firm. Low + Associates, which has 12 employees, will retain its name and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Crosby, which has 38 employees. There will be no layoffs.

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

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