Fidelity’s Split From Hill, Holliday Casts Ripples

The effects of the impending split between Fidelity Investments and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos have begun to reverberate throughout the local agency community.

Hill, Holliday last week began a round of layoffs as it prepares for the account’s September departure. The agency has said about 20 Boston staffers are being dismissed [Adweek, June 18]. Executive vice president, copywriter Bill Heater, who helped craft Fidelity’s current “See yourself succeeding” campaign, is being reassigned to FleetBoston Financial. That account had come into increasing conflict with Fidelity, hastening the client’s departure, which was announced two weeks ago.

Fidelity, based in Boston, will continue to work with Hill, Holliday for about 90 days, and the company likely will not make a decision about the agency’s replacement until that notice period expires, said client representative Anne Crowley.

Fidelity spends $100-120 million annually on ads. The company does not plan to hire a review consultant, and roster shop Arnold, here, is being considered for Hill, Holliday’s assignment, Crowley said.

Arnold currently handles Web and branding assignments, and recently pitched broad image concepts to Fidelity, sources said. At press time on Friday, talks between that agency and Fidelity were ongoing. Fidelity is not believed to be considering other agencies at present.

Hill, Holliday has the largest chunk of Fidelity’s business, working mainly on mutual funds; Gotham in New York promotes its online brokerage.

One option for Fidelity is having Arnold continue with “See yourself succeeding,” according to sources. Arnold might be amenable to such a scenario, having also inherited a tagline for Alcatel. Also to be re solved is a possible conflict between Fidel ity and Arnold client The Hartford, an insurance and financial-services provider. Crowley declined to discuss details of expanding Arnold’s role; agency president Fran Kelly did not return calls.

Anticipating Fidelity’s departure, Hill, Holliday had in recent weeks dismissed several dozen additional employees, sources said. Agency executives last week refuted such claims.