Wired Digital chooses Goodby for HotBot push

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Wired Digital has hired Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, as first agency for its $10 million to $15 million account.

The agency's initial assignment will be a national branding campaign to raise awareness of Wired Digital's search engine, HotBot. That campaign is expected to break in October.

While HotBot has won kudos from PC magazines for its detailed and powerful searches, Wired Digital has not heavily promoted the search engine to consumers.

"HotBot is really the hidden jewel of search engines," said Mary Murphy, VP-marketing. "We've really relied on word-of-mouth up until now. But now we feel like the product is ready [for a marketing push]. It's sophisticated on the back end, but easy for anyone to use."

With the campaign still taking shape, Ms. Murphy said Wired Digital is looking for something different from the current efforts of competitors such as Yahoo! and Excite.

"Our competition in the portal [space] has not really differentiated themselves at all," said Ms. Murphy. "They've pointed out the frustrations we all have, but not why we should prefer one over the other. We see a real chance to exploit our differences."

LATEST HIGH-TECH PRIZE

The win is Goodby's second new high-tech business in the past two weeks. The agency, which handles Hewlett-Packard Co.'s printer and imaging products account, earlier this month picked up 3Dfx, a chipmaker hoping to brand its computer graphics product as Intel Corp. has branded its chips. Its spending could go as high as $20 million to $30 million.

AGAINST BLACK ROCKET

The HotBot campaign will pit Goodby against Yahoo! agency Black Rocket, San Francisco. Its founders include former Goodby Associate Creative Director Bob Kerstetter, who worked on Goodby accounts including Norwegian Cruise Line, California Milk Processors Board and Porsche Cars North America.

Goodby General Manager Harold Sogard said HotBot's competitors have become more about "bells and whistles" additional content and less about searching.

"HotBot is the smart way to search, and that's a great premise for us to create a campaign around," he said.M

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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