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A rocky year: breakups and stiff competition highlighted advertising industry in 1991.

Arkansas' advertising sector will remember 1991 as a year marked by a national recession, the breakup of two of the state's largest agencies and the end of a 13-year newspaper war.

Nationally, clients treated advertising as an expense to be carefully analyzed and justified.

The same held true for Arkansas advertisers, although the state's agencies were not hit as hard by the recession as agencies in some other parts of the country.

Despite industry pessimism following marginal billings growth last year, Adweek reported that Arkansas' largest agency, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods of Little Rock, increased its billings 10 percent from 1990 to 1991.

The Little Rock-based agency ranked 15th among Adweek's 50 largest Southwest agencies.

"While our agency had planned for the past year to be difficult, our state and region were not as deeply affected by the recession as many other areas," says Wayne Cranford, CJRW's chairman. "It was a year when accountability became paramount and close partnerships with our clients took on added significance."

Small agencies discovered that the competition was fierce. But their willingness to accept less profitable accounts, which sometimes were passed up by large agencies, kept many afloat.

More Competition

Competition among agencies increased following cuts in the advertising budgets of many clients and the division of two of the state's largest agencies.

Mangan Rains Ginnaven Holcomb of Little Rock lost principals Craig Rains and Bob Ginnaven along with Carrick Patterson, who was vice president of communications and director of public relations.

Ginnaven and Patterson formed Ginnaven Patterson & Associates.

Rains began his own public relations firm, Craig Rains Communications.

Larry Stone and Millie Ward parted company with Myron Resneck and formed Stone & Ward Inc. of Little Rock. Soon after their move, other agencies began pursuing former Resneck Stone Ward & Associates clients.

Perhaps the year's biggest advertising story occurred Oct. 18 when Arkansas Democrat Publisher Walter E. Hussman Jr. purchased the assets of the Arkansas Gazette from the Gannett Co., ending a 13-year newspaper war.

An advertising backlash following rate increases as high as 300 percent at the renamed Arkansas Democrat-Gazette never became widespread.

Still, new and existing publications attempted to cash in on the ad dollars available following the Gazette's demise.

Life & Home Weekly and Wheels Weekly are targeted weeklies that began publication in central Arkansas last year. They are distributed together to area homes.

The Arkansas Writers' Project Inc., which publishes Arkansas Business, announced it will convert its monthly Arkansas Times magazine to a weekly publication in May.

Advertising agency officials are working overtime to determine the impact of the new publications and then decide where their clients' dollars will have the most impact.

"We are developing communications programs that are highly targeted and cost efficient," Cranford says.
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Article Details
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Author:Fleisch, Shelley
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Apr 6, 1992
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