AOL Seeks New Agency to Convince Consumers to 'Care About AOL Again'

Branding Campaign to Reintroduce Company to Public In a Way That Captures Emotion, Shows Relevance

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AOL is searching for an agency to help it devise a new brand campaign in the hopes of reconnecting with consumers, Ad Age has learned.

People familiar with a request-for-proposal sent out by AOL said the company is looking to refresh its image and get the word out on "why people should care about AOL again" noting that consumers don't know "what we're up to today" or "what value we deliver." It's understood that the company is looking to award the assignment to an agency by early March.

The move comes as AOL struggles with finding its footing against competitors such as Google and Yahoo, and after major operational changes at the company following its acquisitions of Huffington Post and Techcrunch. People familiar with the RFP also said that AOL is looking to tell its story in a way that "captures emotions" and lets consumers see how is "relevant as a brand."

Maureen Sullivan, senior VP-brand, marketing and communications did not provide detail on the matter, but said that AOL frequently talks to creative partners.

Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett picked up creative work for AOL in September 2009, but the agency has not worked with AOL since 2010.

AOL in its most recent quarterly earnings posted display ad revenue -- the present and future of its business -- of $363.8 million, up 10% from $331.6 million a year ago. The increase in ad revenue helps offset the company's declining subscription revenue for its withering dial-up business, which fell by 18%.

It's not a big measured-media spender, but AOL appears to have significantly cut its budget in 2011. From January through October, the company spent about $7 million in the U.S., according to Kantar, down from $14.3 million for full-year 2010, when it launched its last rebrand with new-look logos and messaging.

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