Ruder Finn loses iWon job to rival Shandwick

NEW YORK: Ruder Finn’s New York tech practice was left stunned last week after being notified that it had lost the high-profile iWon.com account for which it had received such critical acclaim - by voicemail.

NEW YORK: Ruder Finn’s New York tech practice was left stunned last week after being notified that it had lost the high-profile iWon.com account for which it had received such critical acclaim - by voicemail.

NEW YORK: Ruder Finn’s New York tech practice was left stunned last

week after being notified that it had lost the high-profile iWon.com

account for which it had received such critical acclaim - by

voicemail.



It was a double whammy for Ruder Finn as co-director and SVP Tony

Telloni left to take the top communications post with Reciprocal, a

Buffalo, NY-based digital rights management firm. He did not depart

because of the iWon loss, however.



Ruder Finn launched iWon to much fanfare last year - even scoring a

prized full segment on ABC’s Nightline - but the CBS-backed portal

decided to drop the agency after its six-month contract expired on

January 15.



The account had been worth upwards of dollars 2 million, but the company

slashed its PR budget after launching. It is now rumored to be in the

mid-six-figure range.



iWon marketing director John Brod said he was pleased with Ruder Finn’s

work - on the shortlist for a PRWeek award - but decided to switch to an

agency with more of a consumer focus. ’We’re just looking for a change

of direction,’ he said, adding that the company is also on the hunt for

a PR director.



Ruder Finn MD Richard Funess, however, said iWon’s decision came as a

shock. ’We knew the budget would go down considerably, but we weren’t

expecting it to go away,’ he said. He added that the way the firm was

notified of iWon’s choice - via a phone message - bothered him most:

’They said no other agency was being brought in, and a week later we get

an e-mail from them with Shandwick’s name next to ours.’



Brod declined to discuss the switch, but said that since iWon did ask

Ruder Finn to submit a PR plan for the coming year, ’maybe they thought

(keeping the account) was a foregone conclusion.’ Ironically, Ruder Finn

- which holds equity in iWon - still has a stake in the site’s future

success, as it would profit from a successful IPO.



According to Shandwick/New York consumer group SVP Caryl Svendsen, the

firm will work for iWon on a project basis for the next two months.

’They want to be a total consumer brand,’ she said.



Ruder Finn SVP Robert Dowling will now head the firm’s technology group.



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