Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos

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2004 Rating: 2 stars

The essence: The Boston-based Interpublic Group of Cos. agency lost a sizable piece of business when the $40 million FleetBoston Financial account vanished as part of the fallout of the Bank of America Corp. merger. Hill Holliday failed to replace it with a marquee client, coming up short in the JPMorgan Chase review and bowing out of the Charles Schwab & Co. pitch. By yearend, the agency's non-existent profile on the national new-business scene had a lot of observers chattering about its diminished sway, making it vital that the agency pick up a big win or two in 2005.

Net growth: Hill, Holliday's acquisition of Greenville, N.C.-based Erwin-Penland brought in Verizon Wireless' retail business in the South and Southwest. Wins included Intrawest Corp., insurer Ace Ltd. and Prince Sports-nothing that makes up for the loss of FleetBoston.

management: CEO Mike Sheehan's first full year at the helm failed to impress on the new-business front, but he did shore up the business development team with a few hires.

Creative quality and effectiveness: The agency continues to churn out solid but bland spots for major clients CVS Corp. and Dunkin' Donuts. There were also some disturbing ads for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and quirky ads for the Massachusetts State Lottery.