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Promises for Hill

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BOSTON-Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos lost co-president June Blocklin to UPromise, but gained media advertising chores from the customer loyalty firm, which already worked with the agency for some of its marketing needs.

The advertising business had been at McCann-Erickson, New York, which like Hill, Holliday is a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos. "It just made sense to consolidate with a single resource," said UPromise founder and CEO Michael Bronner. A campaign from Hill, Holliday will launch in the spring. McCann officials declined comment.

Hill, Holliday and Young & Rubicam, New York, were finalists in a pitch for UPromise's estimated $25-30 million ad business last year [Adweek, June 17]. The Boston shop was later assigned UPromise's direct marketing account [Adweek, Oct. 9]. Sources said Hill, Holliday executives had been hoping to expand the agency's relationship with the Brookline, Mass., client, though Blocklin's decision to join UPromise as president of partner services was not necessarily a decisive factor in the shift from McCann. A Hill, Holliday spokesman declined to comment on the shift.

Blocklin's impending departure came as a surprise. Though she has shared the co-president title at Hill, Holliday with chief creative officer Mike Sheehan, the two were viewed as having "separate fiefdoms" inside the agency and had engaged in no overt power struggle, sources said. Sheehan becomes sole president of the Boston headquarters. "It was a difficult decision to make, because I love Jack [Connors]," Hill, Holliday's CEO, Blocklin said. Connors said in a statement, "We will continue to build on our success."

For-profit UPromise will allow consumers who register online to buy goods and services from partner firms such as AT&T and Coca-Cola; rebates will be deposited into tax-deferred college savings accounts. UPromise plans to launch its services in about a week.