A game of Web shop “hot potato” has arisen over the interactive account for De Beers U.S.A. The gem clearinghouse’s traditional agency, J. Walter Thompson, New York, last month quietly reassigned Web site design duties to InterActive8, New York. But last week, De Beers’ former interactive agency, Magnet Interactive Communications, announced it had resigned that assignment along with Mattel’s Matchbox Toys account. A Magnet official said last week they were unaware InterActive8 got the business. “We’ve been re-evaluating our relationship with Magnet for several months,” said Anne Ritchie, account supervisor at JWT for De Beers. JWT, N.Y., which has been outsourcing Web work, had made several suggestions to the Washington, D.C.-based firm about how to service the account. However, Magnet was “either unwilling or unable to meet that criteria.” Basel R. Dalloul, chairman and chief executive officer of Magnet, said the agency resigned both accounts because the clients were more interested in maintaining Web sites than pursuing other marketing strategies. “Job shop work is not something Magnet wants to be involved with anymore,” Dalloul said. Though Magnet has more than 130 people in its D.C. office, he added, “We’re not going to go and use our resources where they’re not best used.” He described the resignation as a business decision: “Is the benefit justifying the cost of doing business with those clients? In this case it’s not.” A representative from Mattel said they were satisfied with Magnet’s work and that the firm would remain on for the next 60 days as the toymaker conducts an interactive agency review. Magnet’s other kid-centered clients include Kellogg’s cereals and Binney & Smith’s Crayola Crayons. Dalloul said the company’s roster will not be hurt by the resignation of the marquee brands and noted that Magnet previously resigned accounts for American Greetings and Harvard Business School. “A lot of people probably cringe at the notion,” he said, but the relationship has to be “mutually beneficial to the client and to Magnet.” Resigning El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel is a curious move by Magnet because of the company’s purported expansion plans. Sources said the company hopes to open a West Coast office to service the Torrance, Calif.-based Nissan North America account. Starting this spring, the De Beers Web site (www.adiamondisforever.com) will be hosted by InterActive8, whose clients include M&M/Mars, AT&T WorldNet and The New York Times.