House of Blues Entertainment this week is expected to announce the hiring of an ad agency to handle the $20 million account of its Web site, hob.com.
Two California agencies, Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, and TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, are the front-runners, but the client was still in discussions with other shops as the quiet review neared its conclusion, sources said.
The winning agency will be charged with "creating the consumer positioning we want around the principle of live music and the destination for live music on the Internet," said HOB director of marketing Chris Stephenson.
HOB, which operates nightclubs and concert venues in the U.S. and Canada, hopes to launch an online and offline advertising campaign within six months.
"It's broader than hob.com; it's a branding assignment," Stephenson said. "Our online business has become the default access point [to the company]. We have digital businesses we've grown over the last four years, but [the Web site] is also a great promotional vehicle for the rest of our venues."
Stephenson added the assignment will involve "marketing the brand as well as the dot.com."
To date, the company has handled all advertising in-house, primarily concert promotions.
"This is the first time we've ever used an outside agency and that's why it's so important to us," Stephenson said.
All of the agencies who pitched demonstrated a deep understanding of the HOB brand and the live
music marketplace, but RPA and TBWA/C/D offered strong creative presentations that separated them from the pack, he said.