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Deutsch Refuses Lycos Offer

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Finalist Hill, Holliday Applauds Rival's Victory; Account Status Unclear
BOSTON--In its first major pitch against a hometown favorite, Deutsch Boston has come out on top, beating Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos for Lycos Networks. But Deutsch has turned down the estimated $25 million account after the review process made the shop "uncomfortable."
The New York-based agency, which opened a Boston office late last year, withdrew itself from Lycos' consideration after learning a copy of its creative presentation had been handed to Hill, Holliday, which was then given a second chance to "tweak" its presentation [Adweek, May 1].
Last week, CEO Donny Deutsch vowed to retain his stance on the matter: "We dropped out. We will not work for this client." Two weeks ago, he said, "We're uncomfortable with the process, and we've told Lycos not to consider us a contender any longer."
It is believed that even after learning of Deutsch's dissatisfaction with the selection process and its desire not to proceed, the client last week offered to award the account to the agency.
Hill, Holliday is believed to have been given the preferential treatment because its CEO, Jack Connors, is a longtime Lycos board member. To that point, Connors said, "I am committed to all the companies on which I serve. Although my No. 1 commitment is to the company with my name on it.
"Am I disappointed? Absolutely," he added of being bested by Deutsch. "Am I predicting that we will lose it? Yes. Will I kick some ass because we didn't win, absolutely not. I couldn't be more comfortable with how this agency is performing today.
"Deutsch hit a home run [with its pitch], while we, apparently, hit a double or a triple," said Connors. "But I have nothing but appreciation for the team here."
How Lycos will proceed--if it will restart the review or hand its account to Hill, Holliday--could not be determined by press time. A Lycos representative said the company had no comment.
--with David Gianatasio