HookMedia Expands to Atlanta

Interactive Buying Service Opens Office, Adds SmarterKids.com
BOSTON–HookMedia last week took the first step toward becoming a national player by opening an outpost in Atlanta.
Separately, the agency added an assignment from SmarterKids.com in its Boston headquarters.
“We looked at large corporations and what they were spending in terms of media buys and the Internet, and mapped where the mid-sized agencies are located,” said HookMedia president and founder Don Epperson of the agency’s decision to open its second office in Atlanta.
Formed in 1998, HookMedia received $15 million in venture funding in March and currently employs about 80 staffers.
HookMedia counts Adair-Greene and Interactive Planet as its agency partners in the Atlanta area and is in talks with other area agencies about handling Internet placement for various clients, Epperson said.
The Atlanta office is led by Barry Lowenthal, a principal who joined HookMedia several months ago from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, where he served as partner and media director. It will service the Southeast business community. The new office currently has five employees, although Epperson anticipated that it would grow to 20-30 by year’s end.
HookMedia plans to open in New York and Chicago later this year, and is eyeing San Francisco and Europe as possible locations, most likely in 2001, Epperson said. In addition, the agency is planning offices that would focus on specific market niches. For example, an outpost focusing on entertainment is planned for Los Angeles, he said.
“The Internet is obviously global, and we need to be in multiple locations around the globe,” said Epperson.
However, the agency needed to look no further than Boston to service SmarterKids.com, an online toy store that this year shifted its advertising strategy to the Internet.
The Needham, Mass., company, which has decided not to do any TV advertising this year, retained HookMedia to execute banner and e-mail campaigns, with a goal of increasing customer acquisition and brand awareness. HookMedia takes over for Carat Freeman, Newton, Mass.
SmarterKids.com senior vice president of marketing Evelyn Somers declined to give specifics on the budget, but said that the work with HookMedia would be in the “multiple millions.” SmarterKids.com is also in the process of hiring an agency to handle creative work, but declined to identify the shop.

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