Hill, Holliday Unites With GMO

Merger Creates National Agency Under Connors’ Leadership
BOSTON–The merger of Goldberg Moser O’Neill and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos helps address fundamental flaws in both agencies: It provides leadership to GMO and gives Hill, Holliday a renewed West Coast presence.
Fred Goldberg will retire by the end of the year from the San Francisco agency he founded in 1991 with creative director Brian O’Neill and a third co-founder, Michael Moser, who retired last year.
The merger was announced last week by the Interpublic Group of Cos. in New York, which owns both GMO and Hill, Holliday. “We’ve had some pretty good success in Boston and now have more than 100 people in New York; but if you squint a little bit, you’d have to say that we’re still a Northeast agency,” said Jack Connors, Hill, Holliday chairman and chief executive officer.
Connors becomes chief executive of the agency renamed GMO/Hill, Holliday. (Hill, Holliday’s name remains unchanged in Boston, where it is headquartered, and New York, its only other office.) Even though Hill, Holliday on an IPG organization chart is considered an autonomous agency of The Lowe Group, Connors will continue to report to IPG chairman Phil Geier and his successor John Dooner.
Hill, Holliday’s largest clients–John Hancock Financial Services, FleetBoston Corp. and Fidelity Investments–are all based in Boston. Key clients at GMO include Cisco Systems, Micronpc.com and The Coca-Cola Co. Combined, the two shops will employ more than 1,000 people and claim revenues of $180 million on billings of $1.2 billion.
The merger, under discussion for the past three months, was announced internally to GMO staffers by Goldberg. “We think this is a very good thing or we wouldn’t have done it,” Goldberg said later in an interview.
The merger gives Hill, Holliday a West Coast presence for the first time since 1992 when it closed its Los Angeles office following the loss of the Infiniti account. GMO lost an automaker account last year when Kia Motor Sports moved its $50 million account. It also lost the Dell Computer Corp. account. Its billings and revenue for 1999 grew by about 12 percent, just below the national average of 13%. K