After a national review, Hotlinks.com has selected the Leo Burnett Technology Group to handle its estimated $5-10 million account.
The San Francisco agency, which generally concentrates on business-to-business accounts, will handle a national consumer campaign for the Web startup.
The agency opened its doors only about five weeks ago. In winning the business, it prevailed over three undisclosed Bay Area finalists, sources said.
"Strategic smarts is what seemed to make the difference," said Robert Ahearn, agency president. Brand development and brand strategies made up a big part of the review discussions. "We offered the speed and nimbleness of a small shop and the clout and resources of a giant," he said.
The agency, which has offices around the country, is designed to be more entrepreneurial and tech-oriented than parent agency Leo Burnett in Chicago. Both have been pursuing dot.com accounts.
Ahearn is new to Burnett, but is familiar with the San Francisco market from his three years at direct response shop Cohn & Wells, which handled Microsoft business and other tech clients. He said his fledgling agency "can work in hyperspeed to keep up with the startups and can provide a [quantitative] branding process that tech engineers can understand."
With only 10 employees, the office handles about $30-40 million in billings and is hiring as fast as it can, said sources.
Hotlinks.com, based in Mountain View, Calif., is an online search community founded last year by former Netscape engineer Jonathan Abrams. Backed by CMGI, the site helps users organize and share their favorite links and meet people with similar interests.
New work is slated for the fourth quarter. The media mix is still being decided. Company officials were not available at press time.