Three agencies battle for Hong Kong Tourism Authority account

LOS ANGELES: The Hong Kong Tourism Authority (HKTA) is once again searching for a PR firm after ending a two-year relationship with Hill %26 Knowlton for "not being international enough."

LOS ANGELES: The Hong Kong Tourism Authority (HKTA) is once again searching for a PR firm after ending a two-year relationship with Hill %26 Knowlton for "not being international enough."

Three agencies are in the running for the international account: DCI, The Cromwell Group, and Ogilvy PR, according to HKTA's Diana Budiman.

Budiman revealed that her agency has been looking for new PR help for about five months, although H&K continues to handle the account in the interim.

The business was put up for review because HKTA felt Hill & Knowlton is "going through a lot of restructuring, said Budiman. She added that the agency felt it needed a firm with a larger global reach.

"It's a worldwide thing, she said of the account. "So we want to find a PR firm that fits our needs, someone with more international connections."

This comment appears to be at odds with PRWeek's 2002 rankings, in which H&K takes third spot in the global billings league - behind Weber Shandwick and Incepta Group - and leads the top US agencies in terms of percentage of revenue earned outside the US.

H&K New York general manager Phil Sheldon confirmed that H&K declined to re-pitch. "It's a challenge financially to make them a profitable client, said Sheldon.

The contentious account has passed through numerous agencies recently. Before H&K, Spring O'Brien held the business for a year, before resigning over "strategic differences. Before that, BSMG was agency of record for 20 months.

Last year, Hong Kong lured more than 62 million visitors, with tourists from mainland China making up the fastest- growing segment of travelers.

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