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Agencies Set to Hail Britannica

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CHICAGO-Encyclopedia Britannica is seeking an ad agency to draw people to its site on the Internet, which has become its chief outlet.
The Chicago-based company confirmed it has sent out requests for proposals through a consultant to a number of shops.
Sources projected ad spending on an upcoming campaign at around $30 million. Company representative Tom Panelas declined to give specifics, but did say the budget will be "nothing close" to that of previous efforts. EB spent $5.6 million in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
EB has previously worked with Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago. FCB Direct handled direct mail work, but the agency's role has been limited in the past year, an FCB representative said.
Razorfish in New York was recently hired to handle online development for the company, including site design, information architecture and database integration.
Long known for its multivolume encyclopedias, EB is now offering an online subscription encyclopedia and is also selling its sets on CD-ROM.
The ad assignment will be to draw information seekers to the company's free Web site at www.britannica.com, Panelas said.
The site routes users to online information guided by EB's staff.
"It's essentially a search and navigation system, and you're searching a directory of sites chosen by EB editors," Panelas said. "It's about trust.
"We are reinventing the brand for the Internet," he said. "We are looking for partners to help us do that." The goal is to be the "premier knowledge destination site on the Internet," he added.
The plan for spreading the message about the encyclopedia, which was founded in 1768, has not been nailed down. Media strategies, for example, will be discussed during the review process, Panelas said. ƒ