Publicis Is Named Hoover's Online Agency

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Publicis in Mid America, Dallas, has become the agency of record for Hoover's Inc.'s online service.

Publicis beat out six agencies, including finalists TSA/Leo Burnett, Austin, TX, and Temerlien McClain, Irving, TX, to claim the estimated $10 million to $12 million account. GSD&M, Austin, TX, was the incumbent.

"GSD&M has a lot of strength, but we were really looking for someone that had a lot more business-to-business experience," said Jani Spede, senior vice president of sales at Hoover's, Austin, TX.

"We selected Publicis because, yes, they can certainly help us with our brand exposure," Spede said. "We have a very aggressive customer acquisition plan for this year."

Located at, Hoover's Online is an Internet-based service that offers free and fee-based business news and information to 3 million business executives. The site's key attraction is a proprietary database of business information and companies assembled by 120 editorial and research staff members.

But the company feels its target audience of sales, marketing and technology professionals does not know enough about the online service.

"They basically asked us to come up with a branding positioning for them and we did a lot of talking to their potential customers about online information sources, what's important and who they use," said Brice Campbell, group account director at Publicis.

"We studied their competition, and the kind of positioning that we thought was most relevant or compelling for Hoover's was, 'It's the first place you go for business information online.' "

The agency developed seven campaigns based on that strategy, tested them against consumers, and narrowed it to three for extra testing.

"As a brand, we want them to generate awareness and brand association so that business people know more about what Hoover's can do for them," Spede said. "They'll help us position Hoover's as a portal for business people."

The first leg of the campaign will debut in November across magazines and newspapers in the business and trade categories, and in direct mail to chief information officers and chief technology officers. Online, the media plan calls for banners, buttons, sponsorships, viral marketing and newsletters.

All Publicis divisions will chip in: the main Publicis in Mid America will offer advertising help, Publicis Dialog will pitch in for direct marketing, Publicis Optimedia for planning and buying, and Publicis Technology for interactive marketing.

"Obviously, they want to, on the one hand, increase awareness of their service and site, and then, on the other hand, they want to drive additional traffic and generate additional revenue through subscriptions to their corporate and individual accounts," Publicis' Campbell said.

Part of France's Publicis Groupe S.A., Publicis in Mid America last year recorded billings of $425 million. Clients include BMW, TGI Friday's, Whirlpool Corp., Principal Financial Services and Cellular One.

But Hoover's can prove to be as challenging for Publicis as its more blue-chip accounts are. The Internet is known for its free content, although Hoover's differentiates itself through special organization and compilation of information.

"There are a lot of avenues for online information out there, a lot of competition," Publicis' Campbell said. "We want to convince people that they can save time and cut down on the amount of time researching online by coming to Hoover's first."

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