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Nezzina/Brown rides Joe Camel into notoriety
Joe Camel is the only product endorser with a custom-made ad agency. tut given the cartoon character’s notoriety, it’s perhaps appropriate that New York-based Mezzina/Brown was formed specifically to handle R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and its Camel cigarette account In 1991. Ironically, the agency – created when several executives from Young & Rubicam broke away and set up shop to handle RJR – mistakenly gets a lot of guff for creating the Joe Camel character and campaign. In fact, the low-profile agency helps keep the character alive. Joe Camel was created in 1974 by a British illustrator for a French Camel campaign. In 1987, Trone Advertising, Greensboro, N. C., imported the image to the U. S. for use in a 75th birthday logo for Camel cigarettes. The ‘Smooth character’ campaign was created subsequently by McCann-Erickson worldwide, and the advertising evolved further at Young & Rubicam and Nezzina/Brown. The agency has attempted to expand beyond its core account with mixed success. Most of the accounts acquired in a 1993 merger with Wills & Evans have left the shop or are conducting agency reviews. Agency President William Brown Jr. called the controversy surrounding founding client Joe Camel a ‘freedom of commercial speech issue.