Fidelity Seeks Handler for $50-60 Mil. Online Task

Behind in Web Stock-Trading Race, Client Looks Beyond Lead Shop
BOSTON–Fidelity Investments is searching for an agency to handle the $50-60 million launch of its expanded online brokerage, sources said.
Pile and Co. here is assisting the client and has been referring to the assignment in pitch materials as “Livewire,” sources said. It is unclear whether that is the name of the new service itself.
Fidelity, based in Boston, would prefer to work with an East Coast shop, but geography is not a strict consideration. Agencies in New England, New York, the Midwest and the Southeast have been contacted, according to sources. A solid financial services background is required, sources said.
Pile is expected to have an initial list of contenders within the next couple of weeks, sources said.
Fidelity’s lead agency–Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston–is expected to participate, sources said. Hill Holliday’s brand campaign for Fidelity, starring Lily Tomlin and Don Rickles, while panned in creative critiques, has generated a significant increase in volume at Fidelity’s Web site and consumer call center, according to the client.
Pile and Co. officials could not be reached last week. Fidelity declined comment.
The client spent $80 million-plus on advertising through the first 10 months of 1998, per Competitive Media Reporting.
Fidelity officials have previously said they are mulling the expansion of their online services to include real-time account balance updates, unlimited free stock quotes and Nasdaq Level II feeds (detailed market reports). The company has not said when the revamped offering will be launched or announced a name.
The market for online trading is exploding, however, and Fidelity is only a minor player.
The domestic online trading market rose to 7.5 million total accounts in 1998, compared with 4.1 million in 1997, according to Gomez Advisors in Concord, Mass. is the market leader, with roughly a 29 percent share; Fidelity ranks fifth, with just 9.4 percent. Waterhouse Securities, E*Trade and Datek rank second through fourth, respectively. About a quarter of all retail stock trades are now made online. –with Aaron Baa