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Pile, Rational on Hunt

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Internet-tool provider Rational Software has hired consulting firm Pile and Co. to lead a search for an agency to handle its creative account.

A Pile and Co. representative confirmed handling the review, but declined further comment, referring all questions to the client. Officials there did not return calls.

Overall ad spending by Rational, which offers a variety of Net tools, in-cluding software used by programmers to ensure that applications work as planned, was estimated by sources to be in the $15-20 million range.

The incumbent, B2B specialty shop Allen & Gerritsen in Watertown, Mass., will not defend. Agency president Paul Allen last week called the split "a mutual decision." Media remains with Carat Freeman in Newton, Mass.

A recent budget increase is a factor driving the review, along with the client's desire to find an agency partner to focus on mainstream brand-building, rather than sales-oriented executions, sources said.

Pile and Co. has begun contacting shops with both high-tech and consumer expertise; a list of about a half-dozen contenders will likely be made by month's end, sources said. Midsized shops on the East Coast are preferred, but geography is not a strict consider-ation. Rational is based in Cupertino, Calif., but client svp Eric Schurr, who is working closely with Pile and Co. on the agency-selection process, is stationed in the company's Lexington, Mass., office.

The client had selected Allen & Gerritsen last year following a review. The agency's work for Rational consisted mainly of print, interactive and direct-mail executions that targeted Fortune 500 companies. Allen said the work "was more lead generation than branding," and recent efforts had no specific tagline.

Rational, which competes with software giants such as Computer Associates and providers such as Mercant, reported revenue for its second quarter and the six months ended Sept. 30 of $187.5 million and $357.8 million, respectively, compared with $128.2 million and $245.6 million, respectively, for the same periods last year.