GMO/Hill, Holliday and SF Interactive are in talks about a possible merger, said executives at both San Francisco-based agencies. "There is no deal on the table, just talk," said Bruce Carlisle, president-CEO of SF Interactive. One executive familiar with the situation said GMO/Hill, Holliday may be looking for interactive help following its recent loss of the $25 million Internet advertising portion of the Cisco Systems account. Other shops also may be in the mix, another executive said.
GMO/Hill Holliday remains global agency of record for Cisco, which spends more than $60 million in the Americas, but last month Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners/West, San Francisco, became Cisco's lead agency overseeing a group of shops developing Internet advertising, interactive marketing and direct-mail initiatives. Those shops include Miller/Huber, San Francisco, and Clear Ink, Walnut Creek, Calif. Hill, Holliday, in its Boston offices, has fully integrated marketing capabilities, including direct marketing, database, customer relationship management as well as general advertising. SF Interactive, with other offices in New York and Washington, just won the Women.com Networks account, from Modem Media, Norwalk, Conn. Other clients include Cadbury Schweppes' Snapple Beverage Group and VeriSign.
Wireless ad, couponing services begin testing
Two wireless companies are unveiling initiatives today. InPhonic, which provides wireless advertising services, today announces the results of a test of an M-commerce advertising offer, in which it tags ads at the bottom of its clients' opt-in wireless alerts. Of the 1,100 consumers who received a recent offer for a free Ericsson mobile phone, 4.5% acted on the offer. InPhonic's clients include Lycos, Sandbox.com and Snowball.com. InPhonic has partnerships with AT&T Wireless Services, Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems and Verizon, and distributes products for Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia. InPhonic's ad offers can be purchased directly from the keypad.
Meanwhile, 2Roam, a provider of wireless Web solutions, is partnering with online loyalty marketing company iQ.com and software company Engage to deliver electronic coupons to consumers via wireless devices. The pilot program, available through any wireless hand-held device, offers a $5 discount on Jiffy Lube's Signature Service Oil Change through the myGeek.com wireless Web site, an online personal shopping service that helps shoppers locate where to buy requested products. The campaign enables consumers visiting myGeek.com to click on the Jiffy Lube link and receive the coupon, which is redeemable by presenting the coupon on the wireless device at the shop.
Gift, flowers and gourmet food purveyor 1-800-Flowers retooled its Web site (1800flowers.com) to offer more product choice and make delivery more efficient. . . . Excite@Home is going to accept and sell Unicast's Superstitial Internet ad format as one of its standard advertising offerings. . . . PlanetOut Corp. and Online Partners, two San Francisco portals for gays and lesbians, agreed to merge last week, creating PlanetOut Partners. . . . AdRelevance, a Jupiter Media Metrix company, today said the number of new companies advertising online has more than doubled since January. The findings are released in AdRelevance's new Hot 100 online advertising measurement service.
Chat . . .
Layoff central: Last week the spate of dot-com layoffs and closings continued. Garden.com and beautyjungle.com both announced they were shutting down. In addition, the online arm of Encyclopaedia Britannica Chicago, laid off about 16% of its staff. Britannica.
com gave notice to 75 U.S. staffers.