Publicis & Hal Riney

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Agency rating: 2

Publicis may have acquired Hal Riney & Partners in 1998, but last year was the first time the San Francisco-based agency benefited in new business from the relationship.

Now Publicis & Hal Riney, the shop took aboard a sizable chunk of Hewlett-Packard Co. business, albeit from sibling Publicis Groupe agency Saatchi & Saatchi, San Francisco.

The win, along with work from General Motors Corp.'s Saturn Corp. and Sprint PCS, led the shop to claim billings in 2000 of $1 billion.

At the beginning of 2000, Riney cashed in on the dot-com boom, with such clients as Webvan Group, eToys and Discovery.com.

Advertising for the Saturn L Series midsized sedan had to be retooled in February. By year-end, despite solid creative, the dot-coms petered out, along with high-tech clients ReplayTV and Iomega Corp.

Even banking client First Union Corp. scaled back considerably on ad spending. Miller Brewing Co.'s Henry Weinhard's, a brand that Hal Riney used to build his agency's reputation, shipped the work to Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.


For Publicis & Riney, the question of the future of Saturn looms large, potentially taking the agency up as the marketer embarks on

the most aggressive product expansion in its history-or into new territory if the brand moves away from its independent origins as Saturn's marketing team moves to GM headquarters.

Still, the shop has a broader agency reel than it's had in a number of years as it jockeys on the new business scene. Locally, questions remain on whether Publicis will merge the San Francisco office of Saatchi & Saatchi into Publicis & Riney's shop there.

Last year's rating: 2.5

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