Fidelity Brings Back Peter Lynch

Peter Lynch, the financial guru dropped last fall after a long run as Fidelity Investments pitchman, returned Tuesday to tout the mutual funds company in an ad in The Wall Street Journal.

“The road to successful investing is long. And every so often, it’s bumpy,” reads the headline in the execution from Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Fidelity’s lead agency. Lynch reassures investors reeling from tumbling stock indexes. The tagline “See yourself succeeding” from last year’s national ad blitz does not appear.

“Peter will continue to do special ads from time to time,” and ‘See yourself succeeding’ remains the company’s main theme,” said a Fidelity spokesman who responded to a call to Beth Pasciucco, senior vice president/marketing.

Fidelity’s relationship with Hill, Holliday, an Interpublic Group shop, has long been volatile, and Lynch’s return underscores Fidelity’s continuing uncertainty – exacerbated by the turmoil on Wall Street – sources said.

Waiting in the wings is crosstown rival Arnold, the Havas-owned agency that was recently assigned to Fidelity Web work and wants to put its “brand essence” philosophy to work for Fidelity on a larger scale, sources said. Pasciucco is a former Arnold executive.

Arnold executives have declined to discuss their relationship with Fidelity, and a Fidelity representative has said: “We’re not in an agency search and have no plans to move any of our advertising.”

Fidelity spends upwards of $150 million on ads annually, according to Competitive Media Reporting, and about 80 percent of its budget is believed to be spent through Hill, Holliday. The shop’s two largest clients are Fidelity and FleetBoston.

Hill, Holliday got its start on the Fidelity account in the mid-1990s working on projects in support of former lead agency Houston Herstek Favat, later acquired by Arnold.