Shops Get Wired for Fidelity Online

Lead Agency Hill, Holliday Faces Gotham, Grey and Martin/Williams
BOSTON–Despite difficulties finding conflict-free contenders among the nation’s larger agencies, Fidelity Investments has selected four finalists for its estimated $50-60 million online brokerage account.
Lead Fidelity shop Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston made the list, along with Gotham and Grey Advertising, both in New York, and Martin/Williams in Minneapolis, according to sources.
Skip Pile, president of Pile and Co., the management consulting firm in Boston overseeing the review, declined comment, as did Fidelity representative Debra McConnell.
Agency officials either could not be reached or declined comment.
Contenders met with Fidelity executives at the mutual fund giant’s Boston headquarters about a week ago and were briefed on final assignments that will be evaluated in the next round of the review, sources said. A decision is expected before the end of the month.
The winning agency will be asked to support an expanded online service through a nationwide branding campaign that will include television and print ads, sources said.
Although Hill, Holliday is seen as the clear favorite, it may face stiff competition from Gotham. That shop recently handled ads for E*Trade, a rival online brokerage service, before the client moved its account to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, a few weeks ago.
Some 20 agencies across the country were initially contacted about pitching Fidelity’s online brokerage business, but most of the more sizable shops took a pass, citing conflicts with existing clients, sources said.
The assignment was referred to in pitch materials as “Livewire” [Adweek, March 15]. It is unclear whether Fidelity’s revamped online trading service will ultimately be known by that name.
Fidelity executives have publicly discussed expanding the company’s online services but have not divulged details. Such a service will likely include real-time account balance updates, unlimited free stock quotes and detailed market information, Fidelity executives have said.
The review was launched to help the nascent service take on Charles Schwab, E*Trade and other competitors which aggressively market their interactive services, sources said.
Fidelity spent more than $80 million on advertising last year, mainly through Hill, Holliday, whose recent commercials feature financial guru Peter Lynch and comedians Don Rickles and Lily Tomlin.