Times Company Digital Issues Briefs to Shops

Times Company Digital has issued guidelines to agencies pitching its $40 million account, illustrating a desire to emphasize its heritage and to focus heavily on its NYTimes.com brand.
Times Company Digital, the umbrella unit for six Net brands of The New York Times Co., will make a decision Feb. 28; a campaign is expected in April. The brands, which include NYTimes, NYToday.com, WineToday.com and GolfDigest.com, and possibly Abuzz.com and Boston. com, will be marketed to “upscale” English-speaking adults ages 25-54.
TCD here said it hopes to attract potential advertisers and investors to the sites. It intends to spend $20 million alone on NYTimes, with the remainder divided among the others.
“If the winning agency cannot or will not handle the secondary brands, it is anticipated that they will still be the lead agency in terms of strategy/planning,” the guidelines state.
TCD said it wants a brand identity for each site. NYTimes and Abuzz, scheduled to launch this quarter, will advertise most aggressively in the top 10 domestic markets and in limited international markets.
Sources said four shops remain in contention: DDB Worldwide, FCB Worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, all New York; Cliff Freeman and Partners and Deutsch, both New York, last week decided not to continue, two weeks after TCD named them finalists.
Cliff Freeman’s Send.com, through which consumers can send such gifts as wine, conflicts with WineToday, while Deutsch and TCD did not have great chemistry, said sources. Consultant AAR/Bob Wolf Partners is overseeing the search, which may affect the status of the shops recently hired by Abuzz and Boston.com. In December, Abuzz hired Allen & Gerritsen, Watertown, Mass. Boston. com, The Boston Globe’s Web site, recently hired Blitz Media, Natick, Mass., and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston.
Through the consultant, TCD declined comment.