Hill’s Liberty Conflict

BOSTON-Hill, Holliday/Altschiller last week withdrew from the review for the estimated $27 million account of Liberty Mutual, according to agency chairman Jack Connors.
Concerns over conflicts of interest with existing clients of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston were insurmountable for Steve Sullivan, the vice president of corporate communications at Liberty Mutual overseeing the review, Connors said.
Although the agency’s New York office currently does not handle accounts in the financial services industry, the Boston office works for such clients as Fidelity Investments, BankBoston and John Hancock Financial Services.
Hill, Holliday/Altschiller, one of 10 shops to receive a questionnaire from New York-based consultant Morgan, Anderson & Co., was allowed into the review after Connors approached Gary Countryman, chairman and chief executive officer of Liberty Mutual. Countryman is chairman of the board at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which is an affiliate of Partners Healthcare, where Connors is chairman of the board.
Sullivan declined to confirm the shops pitching the account. Sources identified the remaining nine contenders as Ingalls Advertising and Holland Mark Martin Edmund, both in Boston; Mullen in Wenham, Mass.; and N.W. Ayer & Partners, Lowe & Partners/SMS, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, Gotham and D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, all in New York.
Liberty Mutual offers residential, automobile, life and disability insurance to businesses and individuals. The Boston-based company also sells mutual funds and investment products through Liberty Financial, but that subsidiary is not part of the current review, Sullivan said.
Liberty Mutual decided to conduct an agency search in January after placing 11-year incumbent Wells BDDP, New York, on 90-day notice. A final decision is expected in April.