Concentric Has $50 Mil Out There

With $20 Mil. Investment Under Its Belt, Client Seeks an Agency
SAN FRANCISCO–Internet service provider Concentric Network is conducting a review for its estimated $50 million advertising account, said sources. It has contacted agencies nationwide, but is especially interested in those with West Coast presences.
Concentric Network in San Jose, Calif., started asking shops for credentials last month. The client is already considering a list of agencies that it expects to narrow down to a group of finalists this month, said sources.
The client did not return calls by press time.
In the second stage of the review, agencies are being asked to demonstrate their understanding of Concentric Network’s business and its competitors, which include America Online, Ameritech and EarthLink.
In addition, the client is requesting that agencies offer up ideas on how they would brand Concentric Network with advertising directed primarily at the small to midsize business market.
The remaining contenders will make presentations to several senior executives at Concentric Network this month, including chairman and chief executive officer Hank Nothhaft, said sources.
Concentric Network is expected to choose an agency this fall, according to sources; it is not known if a new campaign will break by the end of the year. The client is expected to tout affordability and ease of use in any upcoming ads, said sources.
Concentric Network has been aggressively marketing its products, which include high-speed digital subscriber line service, Web-hosting and e-commerce services, to small and midsize businesses that want to sell their products over the Internet. It currently creates its own advertising in-house and has never worked with an agency.
Earlier this year, SBC Communications invested nearly $20 million in Concentric Network in order to assist with the integration of the latter’s Internet-based data services and technology into its portfolio for business customers.
Separately, Concentric is working with Microsoft to establish a co-branded version of the MSN portal for its broadband and dial-up DSL Internet subscribers. The companies will also develop and co-market the Microsoft Windows NT server-based application hosting systems, as well as other services for the small to midsize business market.