Hill, Holliday Inks Pact With Wilhelmina Models

NEW YORK Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos has formed a partnership with Wilhelmina Models that the agency hopes will help it move beyond financial-services and technology accounts and into the fashion and beauty sector.

“We want to expand our portfolio of clients the same way you would a mutual fund,” said Brian Carty, president of Hill, Holliday in New York. “The economy is not going to treat them all the same at the same time. It seemed like a prudent thing to do.”

Nearly five years ago, the agency began courting financial-services and tech companies in part because it had a number of staffers with experience in those sectors, said Carty. Hill, Holliday is now looking toward packaged-goods advertisers, because the shop has “a critical mass” of employees with years of Revlon and L’Oreal experience.

This month, the Interpublic Group shop was among four finalists competing for Jergens’ $95 million account. The business last week went to Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners, an independent agency with more packaged-goods experience.

The five-year Wilhelmina deal will not only give Hill, Holliday access to the modeling agency’s clients, including music artists Jessica Simpson and Usher, athletes such as NBA player Stephon Marbury and model/actress Angie Everhardt, but also will put the shop on fashion’s front line, according to Carty.

“That’s the most valuable dimension to the relationship,” Carty said. “If we are able to tell the client in nine months this will be the look, that gives them a real leg up on the competition.”

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. The pact was signed three weeks ago but had been seven months in the making, Carty said. Though Hill, Holliday has begun talking to Wilhelmina about pairing talent with brands, nothing has been finalized, Carty said.