Holland Mark Refines Direction

Buffeted by the slow eco nomy and lackluster new-business performances, Holland Mark has made several moves designed to revamp the agency and widen its appeal to existing and potential clients.

Erick Soderstrom has been named president of the Boston shop, which he joined earlier this year as evp/director of brand management.

Soderstrom succeeds Chris Colbert, who will concentrate on building agency affiliate BeNow, the Wake field, Mass., customer-relationship marketing outfit of which Colbert is CEO. In addition, Colbert will launch a consulting unit for Holland Mark, dubbed 180, which will focus on business and product turnarounds.

Holland Mark chairman and CEO Bill Davis believes Soderstrom’s mix of client and agency background make him a natural choice for president. Conversely, Col bert’s analytical bent should serve him well at the consultancy BeNow, which accounts for 10-15 percent of Holland Mark’s annual revenue ($31 million in 2000).

“We want to offer a broader array of services to existing and new clients, and we want to put the top people in our organization in places where they can be successful,” Davis said. “We’re attempting to respond to a changing environment.”

Soderstrom said the changes “are an evolution for Holland Mark. We [recognize] the need to provide clients with more than just advertising solutions. We’re a complete marketing resource.”

Soderstrom came to Holland Mark from Altrec.com, a Seattle sports products provider, where he was vp/marketing and retail operations. Earlier, as the director of advertising for Nintendo, Soderstrom helped launch the ultra-successful Pokémon as a videogame. He also served as a vp at McCann-Erickson, Seattle.

“It sounds like [Holland Mark is] taking a page from Hill, Holliday and [trying to] become more like marketing consultants,” said Bill Mont bleau, president of Montbleau Associates in Lexington, Mass. “I think it’s a positive step.” But, he cautioned, “at the end of the day, the question is, will it bring in new clients?”

In addition to Soderstrom, creative directors Marty McDonald and Rob Stewart, who came on board last year, have been gaining stature under executive creative director Bob Minihan.

“They both have unbelievable creative reputations and big-brand experience,” said Minihan.

Holland Mark has endured key client losses in the past year and currently employs about 110 people, down from 200 last year. Current clients include The Boston Globe, Dreyfus and Veryfine.