PALO ALTO, CA: AltaVista has hired a PR director and is on the hunt for an agency of record, just weeks after parent Compaq announced plans to sell a majority stake in the Web portal business to Internet investment firm CMGI for dollars 2.3 billion.
AltaVista has named David Emanuel to the new post of communications director. Most recently a VP with Ketchum in San Francisco, Emanuel handled Parke-Davis' corporate positioning program and was formerly director of communications for the Atlanta Olympic Committee.
Emanuel confirmed AltaVista is courting an agency of record and said a five agencies are currently preparing proposals.
Suitors for the account include Burson-Marsteller, Copithorne & Bellows, Alexander Ogilvy, Applied Communications, and Blanc & Otus. Emanuel said the account is worth upwards of dollars 1 million in the first year alone.
B-M is currently working for AltaVista on a project basis, but, according to Emanuel, 'Their work will be complete in several weeks, which will coincide with the selection of an agency of record, probably by August.' B-M recently picked up a major branding effort for Hewlett-Packard's 'Newco' spin-off company (PRWeek, May 31).
Whatever firm prevails will likely seek to make AltaVista a powerhouse portal on par with Yahoo! and Lycos.
'If you look at Altavista, it is one of the oldest brands in a young industry,' Emanuel said. 'We have some cache with web-savvy users, but traditionally Altavista has done more in terms of research and development and less in terms of marketing. PR will play a crucial role in articulating our story.'
CMGI and AltaVista hope to provide Internet services to both businesses and consumers and to drive the Internet PC market by combining Compaq's consumer PC business with CMGI's network of Internet destinations and technologies.