The announcement follows a review held earlier this year by Pressplay, but the decision was put on hiatus after Roxio acquired the music service, which had been a joint venture of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Venables Bell won that pitch, which also included Dentsu's Colby & Partners, Santa Monica; Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holliday, San Francisco; and Omnicom Group's BBDO, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Originally, the value of the Pressplay account
"Napster is an icon brand and we want to make it stand for music, not free music," said Paul Venables, founder and creative director at the shop.
At the same time, Roxio added media duties for Napster to Mediasmith, San Francisco, which currently handles Roxio's offline and online media planning and buying. Roxio's advertising will continue to be handled by Modernista!, Boston, spokesman Seth Oster said.
The win caps a number of false starts for the upstart ad agency on the Napster account. Venables Bell won Napster during the dot-com boom, but just before they were to work on the account, the service was declared illegal under a court ruling and the agency relationship dissolved.
Apple Computer originally got a head start on the legal online business with its successful 99-cents-a-song iTunes service. That service won't be available to PC users until the end of the year.
Roxio's Napster is expected to launch before the end of the company's fiscal year, which ends March 2004, but the timing of the campaign "may be refined," Mr. Oster said.