Tech titan Lycos lobs big biz to Shandwick

WALTHAM, MA: Schwartz Communications became the latest casualty in the search-engine race last week when Lycos shifted its business, valued in the high six figures, to Shandwick.

WALTHAM, MA: Schwartz Communications became the latest casualty in the search-engine race last week when Lycos shifted its business, valued in the high six figures, to Shandwick.

WALTHAM, MA: Schwartz Communications became the latest casualty in

the search-engine race last week when Lycos shifted its business, valued

in the high six figures, to Shandwick.



According to Lycos director of marketing communications Michele Perry,

the company began looking for a new agency late last year, relying on

word of mouth and research rather than issuing an RFP.



Six agencies pitched for the business, with Shandwick and Cohn & Wolfe

emerging as the two finalists. According to Perry, Lycos selected

Shandwick for its reputation in consumer PR and the combined experience

of its account team.



Ultimately, however, it may have been a snowstorm that won the business

for Shandwick. The day that both agencies were scheduled to meet with

Lycos, a storm caused all flights from New York to Boston to be

canceled.



Cohn & Wolfe rescheduled the meeting, while members of the Shandwick

team chose to drive. ’It certainly was impressive,’ Perry said.

’Shandwick was clearly passionate about the pitch.’ C&W declined

comment.



According to Schwartz creative director and EVP Carol McGarry, Schwartz

did not pitch for the business. She conceded, however, that the

company’s decision to switch agencies didn’t come as a total surprise.

’When you work closely with a client, you sense what they’re thinking,’

she said.



Schwartz worked with Lycos for two years and saw it rise from the fourth

most visited search engine, behind Yahoo!, Infoseek and Excite, to

number two. While one might expect that losing such a large account

would have a major impact, McGarry insisted that the agency had already

replaced the Lycos revenue.



The tech-centric Schwartz is one of a string of agencies to lose search

engine accounts to agencies with stronger consumer capabilities and

greater resources. iWon.com dropped Ruder Finn’s tech practice two

months ago for Shandwick (PRWeek, Jan. 24), then switched to Rubenstein

& Associates last week due to conflicts posed by the Lycos win (see

sidebar). Yahoo!



is currently reviewing its PR, with longtime incumbent Niehaus Ryan Wong

reportedly fending off challenges from several multinationals, rumored

to include Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum and Ogilvy.



The Lycos account will be led by Shandwick EVP and national consumer

practice director Linda Recupero, and will cut across sev-eral other

practices, including Rogers & Cowan for entertainment and Miller/

Shandwick for technology.





iWon: a PR hot potato



iWon.com’s account is becoming the PR industry’s version of a hot

potato. The search engine’s business shifted hands once again last week,

with Rubenstein Associates taking the place of Shandwick, which replaced

Ruder Finn less than two months ago. iWon was a casualty of the Lycos/

Shandwick alliance, which created a blaring conflict of interest for the

agency. Rubenstein senior executive VP Peter Rosenthal confirmed that

his agency is now working with iWon but declined further comment.



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