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
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
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,’
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
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.