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Hill, Holliday Wins Chili's

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BOSTON Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos said it has been hired as lead agency on Chili's advertising account following a review.

The client spent $110 million on U.S. ads last year and nearly $35 million through the first half of 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The Boston-based Interpublic Group agency adds creative and media chores for Chili's, which split with Omnicom Group's GSD&M in April. (The agency yesterday tweaked its name to GSD&M's Idea City.)

Other contenders in the review were not disclosed.

Management changes at the casual restaurant chain along with a prolonged same-store sales slump drove the split with Austin, Texas-based GSD&M, according to sources. (Ken Thewes, client vp, marketing, who left in the spring, was likely the key departure.)

GSD&M and Chili's had worked together for the past two decades.

Hill, Holliday is in the midst of a yearlong new-business streak that has seen it add significant assignments from AOL, Novartis, Procter & Gamble, Toys R Us and Verizon Wireless.

GSD&M also split with Wal-Mart as the year began, declining to participate in the retail giant's controversial repitch of its account.

This story corrects an earlier item that stated GSD&M's recent losses included AT&T.