AltaVista Hits Search

SAN FRANCISCO-Internet search engine AltaVista, a subsidiary of Compaq Computer Corp., is contacting agencies nationwide about its estimated $50-60 million ad account, which includes some global duties, according to sources.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company has been calling midsized and large shops, and has held chemistry meetings with a handful of them, said sources.
Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif., and Ogilvy & Mather, New York, were among those contacted, sources said. Also in the running is Compaq’s agency, DDB, New York, which has done work on a project basis for the search engine in the past.
“It’s a closed review,” said Charles Rashall, AltaVista’s new vice president of sales and marketing. “We are working aggressively to identify an agency to work with us.”
He added the company will have a “significant” ad budget, and is committed to building the brand, “which has always been a top Internet property [and] leading Web site.”
Now is the time, Rashall said, to let “Internet users know … our features and functionality.”
One new product under the AltaVista umbrella Rashall said is ripe for promotion is the e-commerce service, acquired earlier this year by Compaq. Users can access the site to purchase everything from books and videos to baby toys and exercise equipment.
“We have completed … our management team, and now we can get down to business,” said Rashall, who was hired last month along with Ross Levinshon, vice president and general manager of new media, and Mark Delfino, vice president of information management and operations.
Rashall would not provide further details about the review.
Sources said the client can be expected to move quickly, as it plans a branding campaign in the U.S. and select markets around the globe this year. The effort will most likely include TV, radio, print, outdoor and interactive ads. -with Justin Din