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CNet Seeks Bay Area Shop For Branding

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SAN FRANCISCO-The Computer Network ( CNet) is searching for an agency to create a branding campaign aimed at consumers and potential investors, according to sources.
The account is worth an estimated $30-40 million, and will most likely include online and offline ad duties. CNet intends to launch a multimedia campaign later this year to promote its namesake brand and alert consumers to its various products and services, sources said.
The client has conducted informal "chemistry" checks with at least 20 agencies in the Bay Area, including Leagas Delaney, Citron Haligman Bedecarr Euro RSCG, Blazing Paradigm and Publicis & Hal Riney.
Sources said the client has a list of contenders. Executives with CNet could not be reached at press time.
CNet provides technology information and news through a network of Web sites such as News.com, as well as TV programming such as CNet Central, a half-hour series that appears weekly on USA Network's Sci-Fi Channel. The San Francisco company also publishes Snap.com, a free Internet directory, as part of a joint venture with NBC.
Advertising for Snap.com was previously handled by Saatchi & Saatchi, San Francisco, which won the estimated $20-30 million business last summer. However, the agency and client quietly parted ways earlier this year when NBC moved ad duties for the service in-house, said sources.
Saatchi launched a national branding campaign for Snap.com last fall with the tagline, "Building a search engine as big as the Web itself." New ads created by NBC broke earlier this month. TV spots focus on CNet's broad content, and feature myriad screen shots.
Sources said Snap.com is not part of the CNet review.
Separately, CNet announced last week that Richard J. Marino will be the company's president, a new post. He comes from IDG's PC World Communications, where he was president and chief executive officer. ƒ