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Riney Wins $100-Million GM Saturn Advertising Contract

May 24, 1988

DETROIT (AP) _ Hal Riney & Partners, a San Francisco advertising agency known for its Bartles and James wine cooler commercials, was named Tuesday to handle General Motors Corp.’s Saturn Corp. account, reportedly worth $100 million a year.

Riney was among three final contenders selected over the past eight months by Saturn and GM officials, dealers and the United Auto Workers. The other two finalists were N.W. Ayer of New York and Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos of Boston.

Saturn spokesman Dave Barthmuss declined to confirm the widely reported $100 million estimate of the annual value of the contract or to put any dollar figure on annual billings.

″Hal Riney & Partners is known for its outstanding ability to deliver endearing emotional executions with high technical quality. We will work closely together to ... reach Saturn’s target customers with maximum impact,″ said Donald Hudler, Saturn vice president for sales, service and marketing.

Saturn is both an independent GM subsidiary and the sixth car-making division of the world’s largest automaker. It was created to develop new production, worker and dealer systems and to produce an inexpensive U.S.-made small car that can compete with Japanese models.

Saturn, which has headquarters in Troy and is completing a manufacturing complex in Spring Hill, Tenn., is to introduce its first car in the fall of 1990 as a 1991 model.

Barthmuss said the agency will begin work immediately.

Saturn’s advertising agency was required to agree to a commissions arrangement that makes part of its receipts dependent on Saturn’s sales and earnings, Saturn spokeswoman Nannette Wiatr said.

Riney’s clients include Alamo Rent-A-Car, Security Pacific Bank, Perrier, Campbell Soup Co. and Gallo wine.

Perhaps its best-known ads are the down-home Bartles and James wine cooler spots featuring Frank Bartles and his partner Ed James, who end each piece with: ″Thank you for your support.″

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