Hill, Holliday Makes Its Mark

Voices are boun cing off the walls in the new offices of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in San Francisco. In part, it’s be cause the agency’s 95 employees are “almost inhumanely” crammed in the cubicle-laden space, said Rob Bagot, creative director at the agency. But it’s also because there’s been a lot to talk about.

In the past two months, Hill, Holliday, here, has picked up three pieces of new business, each with a budget of more than $10 million. Veritas Software, Red Roof Inns and Togo’s Restaurants recently tapped the agency after each conducted ex haustive national reviews.

“These days, you need to do some extraordinary things to get new business,” noted Bagot. For example, the final pitch for the Red Roof business came only a week after the events of Sept. 11. With commercial airlines still running on spotty schedules, the team at Hill, Holliday drove nearly 12 hours, from San Fran cisco to Phoenix, to pitch the work.

The agency not only edged out TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago and DeVito/ Verdi in New York to win the account, but Red Roof also purchased the work the agency presented in the review. The national TV and radio campaign is set for March 2002.

Nancy Hill, president of Hill, Holliday in San Francisco, was quick to point out that all three accounts would have left the Bay Area if her agency hadn’t won them.

“We were glad to bring some new business into the city,” she said. With the new wins, the Hill, Holliday network—Boston, San Fran cisco and New York offices—claimed billings of $967 million for 2000 on revenue of $145 million.

“We have enough business to keep us busy right now,” Hill added. Despite the flurry of wins, however, she continues to approach work these days with a “cautious optimism.”

While the support of Hill, Holliday’s Boston headquarters has helped the San Francisco office, Hill noted that the shop’s gains have not come without hard work or change.

In addition to the move this fall, Hill, Holliday in San Francisco also shed GMO from its name in May. To coincide with the changing times, the agency has “brought the planning department back in a big way,” Hill said.

She also noted that each of the three new clients, separately, said they tapped the shop because they “loved the strategy we proposed—and that our work delivered on that same strategy.”