UPDATE: The company taps a partner to help it compete in local search.
YellowPages.com, the online joint venture between BellSouth and SBC Communications, has chosen its first ad agency of record. Omnicom's GSD&M of Austin, Texas, is charged with helping the new company stand out in the ultra-competitive local search market.
SBC had previously worked with GSD&M but said it made the choice after a three- to four-month review process in which Ogilvy Los Angeles, Euro RSCG San Francisco, and Venables, Bell & Partners were finalists. Spending for the new advertising effort wasn't disclosed.
GSD&M's objectives will be to build brand awareness, generate online traffic and position YellowPages.com as a premier site for local information. The site's most prominent competitors include Google and Yahoo, which have both made major plays in local search. A number of smaller start-ups are also hoping to carve out a niche.
YellowPages.com's VP of marketing, Matt Crowley, says marketing will capitalize on the parent companies' reputations as trusted sources of local business information.
"I think you can look at the brand and the URL and the legacy and history of a trusted aource and the equity that goes with that," he said. "We expect to leverage that and we expect it to go a long way."
The first YellowPages.com campaign, timed to promote the planned re-launch of YellowPages.com, is expected to debut in early 2006. Mary Lynn Marinucci, GSD&M's account director for the YellowPages.com business, couldn't yet say what role interactive marketing would play in the advertising plan.
"The one thing that's clear to everyone is that it is such a competitive category that we'll be looking at innovative uses of media to get to that target that we want to reach," she said.
Marinucci considers YellowPages.com's target market to be information seekers. The agency will sit down with company executives next week to begin discussing strategies.
GSD&M's other clients have included Wal-Mart Stores and Southwest Airlines.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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