AOL hires Freuds with brief to boost use of broadband

LONDON - Internet service provider AOL this week confirmed its appointment of Freud Communications on fees understood to be in the region of £500,000.

Freuds, which will handle UK consumer PR plus "consultancy work" in the US, was hired without a pitch, but after drawn-out transatlantic discussions.

AOL corporate communications head Jonathan Lambeth said Freuds had a one-year contract to promote AOL's narrowband and broadband offer, its "extra focus" on entertainment and music and the "variety of content strands" available.

Freuds will attempt to position AOL as a media brand and will handle some corporate PR work.

Freuds deputy MD Rebecca Hirst and corporate director Oliver Wheeler are to handle the account, although chairman Matthew Freud will dispense strategic advice, particularly on US issues.

Matthew Freud has known AOL global chairman and CEO Jonathan Miller, with whom he had initial meetings in New York in order to seal the PR contract, since the early 1990s.

Lambeth said tie-ins between selected Freuds clients, specifically those in the entertainment arena, and AOL were a possibility.

In addition, it emerged this week that AOL has also drafted in Fuse PR on an initial three-month project to handle UK regional PR.

Lambeth said Fuse, for which client director Sophia Henri and associate director Blaise Hammond are leading a six-strong account team, has been hired to promote AOL to media in locations that have "just become" broadband-enabled.

Around 70% of UK households are able to access broadband networks. However, this is increasing, with Fuse promoting AOL in newly connected locations, and also in regions where broadband use is already possible.

Lambeth said initial contact with Fuse, which was hired after a non-competitive pitch, came at a Broadband Stakeholders Group conference last year.

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