Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, reached across the country last year, merging with Goldberg Moser O'Neill in San Francisco to create GMO/Hill, Holliday.
Hill Holliday says the merger, as well as new client wins such as Verizon Communications' North-east wireless business and Lycos, helped boost billings to $967 million, up 17% from the previous year.
The Interpublic Group of Cos. agency says net new business accounted for about $169 million with new clients such as Boston Herald, Friendly Ice Cream Corp., BroadVision, Bowstreet, Baltimore Technologies, PrintLife.com, Upromise (direct) and T.J. Maxx (media).
Losses included Omnipoint Corp.'s $58 million business that left when the wireless company merged with VoiceStream Wireless Corp. The shop made creative news with a John Hancock Financial Services spot that featured a lesbian couple adopting a baby; and its campaign starring William Shatner saw Priceline.com through stock surges and $100 per share dips.
There were top-tier staff changes, too. Mike Sheehan returned to Hill Holliday from his post as executive creative director at DDB Worldwide, Chicago, to become co-president of the Boston office with June Blocklin, who had been exec VP-director of advertising at the agency. He replaced Fred Bertino, who left to open Square One's Boston shop.
Veteran copywriter Bill Heater returned to run Fidelity Investments after selling his own shop. Ruth Ayres became exec VP-chief marketing officer in charge of new business, from chief marketing officer at TBWA Worldwide.
In the year ahead, Hill Holliday hopes to buy stand-alone offices around the world, perhaps as early as spring. It wants to acquire integrated capabilities including interactive, direct and database management, specifically in the New York and San Francisco areas. The agency is on the lookout for large automotive and beverage clients.
Last year's rating: Not rated