Rational Software Launches Agency Search

Rational Software has hired consulting firm Pile and Co. to lead a search for a new agency to handle the creative portion of its advertising account.

Representatives from Boston-based Pile and Co. confirmed handling the review but declined further comment, referring questions to the client. Officials with Rational Software did not return calls.

Overall ad spending by the company, which provides a variety of Internet tools such as software used by programmers to ensure that applications work as planned, was estimated by sources in the $15-20 mil-lion range. Media chores are with Carat Freeman, Newton, Mass.

Driving the review is the client’s desire to find an agency partner to focus on mainstream brand-building rather than sales-oriented executions, sources said.

Pile and Co. has begun contacting shops with a mix of high-tech and consumer expertise; semifinalists will likely be chosen by month’s end, sources said. Mid-sized agencies on the East Coast are preferred, but geography is not a strict consideration, sources said. Rational’s corporate office is in Cupertino, Calif., but client senior vice president Eric Schurr, who is overseeing the selection process, is stationed in Lexington, Mass.

The client had chosen business-to-business shop Allen & Gerritsen, Watertown, Mass., a year ago. Agency president Paul Allen called the split “a mutual decision” and said his shop’s work for Rational consisted mainly of print, interactive and direct mail executions targeting Fortune 500 firms.

The loss of Rational Software was softened for Allen & Gerritsen by its addition last week of Classwell Learning Group’s seven-figure branding assignment, Allen said. The online education company is a joint venture of Houghton Mifflin Co., Sylvan Learning Systems’ venture capital group and Inception Capital.

Rational Software, which competes with software giants such as Computer Associates and lesser known providers like Mercant, reported revenue for its second quarter and the six months ended Sept. 30 of $187.5 million and $357.8 mil-lion, respectively, compared with $128.2 million and $245.6 million for the same periods last year.