No Name-on-the-Door Leader? No Problem for Hill Holliday

Comeback Agency of the Year: Hill Holliday

By Published on .

The ash can of ad history is littered with agencies that couldn't survive the departures of their name-on-the-door founders. In 2007, Hill Holliday proved it won't be one of them.

CEO Mike Sheehan has expanded his lead team in the new-business hunt.
CEO Mike Sheehan has expanded his lead team in the new-business hunt.

Boston bold-faced name Jack Connors' 2006 resignation, plus a couple of thin new-business years, led many in the industry to wonder whether the agency would cave. But far from falling apart, Hill Holliday emerged stronger than before, catapulting its status as a well-liked regional shop to that of an innovative, national presence.

Under a strong team established by CEO Mike Sheehan, the Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned agency last year made a remarkable about-face, with a torrent of new-business wins.

Work from Bank of America was particularly sweet since BofA's 2004 acquisition of foundation-setting Hill Holliday client FleetBoston eventually cost the agency that account. Hill Holliday also secured a roster slot with the mother of all marketers -- Procter & Gamble Co. -- to do in-store work promoting Dunkin' Donuts-branded coffee distributed under license by P&G.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Account wins including Bank of America's global wealth, investment management and corporate-social-responsibility business; P&G for Dunkin' Donuts; AOL; Chili's; Gather.com; Novartis' Diovan; Rockport Co.; Toys "R" Us; and Verizon Wireless' national local/retail business.

  • Few losses: ACE Ltd. (resigned; conflict), LoJack (didn't defend) and Smith Barney (resigned; conflict).

  • A strong, stable management team that includes Mr. Sheehan; Kevin Moehlenkamp, exec VP-chief creative officer; Baba Shetty, exec VP-media and interactive; Karen Kaplan, president; Lesley Bielby, exec VP-strategy; and a new addition, Senior VP-Branded Entertainment John Dukakis.

  • Effective work for marketers such as Liberty Mutual that validate Hill Holliday's focus on business solutions.
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