West Coast Rebound

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The dot-com bust put a number of small to mid-sized West Coast advertising shops out of business, but those left standing have begun to benefit from a flurry of agency reviews initiated since last month.

Spending for individual accounts up for grabs ranged from $5 million to as much as $30 million, and at least 18 accounts with combined billings approaching $200 million have gone into review. Marketers seeking agencies ranged from tech firms, such as WebEx, San Jose, provider of video and web conferencing services, to the AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah, to chicken marketer Foster Farms.

"In the last few months, there have been more RFP's than in the past two to three years," said Brian Hurley, partner-general manager, Grant Scott & Hurley, San Francisco, which picked up the $15 million TiVo re-positioning account. "In addition to the pace of new business, existing businesses are finally spending more and doing incremental things," he said.

All of which has left Bay area shops, forced to downsize radically a few years ago, with a new problem: staff shortages. "A lot of people have left the Bay area or left the business to find something more stable," said Josh Nichol, general manager, Hoffman/Lewis, San Francisco, which picked up a multi-million dollar global account last week from Colorado based health food retailer Wild Oats.

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