Fidelity’s Net Snares 4

After canvassing 20 shops from coast to coast–and finding conflicts at most–Fidelity Investments has tapped four finalists for its estimated $50-60 million online brokerage task.
The mutual-fund giant narrowed the field to Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos here (Fidelity’s main agency), along with Gotham and Grey Advertising, both in New York, and Martin/Williams in Minneapolis, sources said. Most of the sizeable shops first queried took a pass, citing existing brokerage or online finance clients, sources said.
Skip Pile, president of Pile and Co., the Boston management consultancy overseeing the review, declined comment, as did Fidelity representative Debra McConnell.
Agency officials either could not be reached or declined comment.
Fidelity seeks a shop to support its expanded online service, code-named “Livewire” in pitch materials [Adweek, March 15]. A national branding effort would include both TV and print.
Contenders met with Fidelity executives at headquarters in Boston about a week ago, and were briefed on creative assignments that will be evaluated in the next round, sources said. A decision is likely before month’s end.
A Fidelity win would be a nice plum for Gotham, which last month lost the $50-60 million account of rival E*Trade to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. Gotham is actively seeking new online clients and touting the fact that E*Trade’s stock quadrupled in value during its two-year tenure.
Gotham is also a finalist in the $10-12 million contest for e-commerce firm, pitted against OgilvyOne, Los Angeles. Other similar accounts in play include Datek Online, the No. 4 online broker, which is shopping a $15-20 million account.
Fidelity, which spends $80 million per year on ads, has discussed online expansion, but has offered few details. It is unclear if it will use the “Livewire” name. –with Justin Dini