AOL Selects Wieden + Kennedy, BBDO New York

America Online Monday tapped Wieden + Kennedy to handle corporate branding duties for the ISP, while handing BBDO New York all of its product and service advertising, including the upcoming launch of AOL 9.0. The combined budget for both assignments reportedly comes in at around $100 million.

The agencies had been pitted against one another in a five-month review process, but AOL, the Internet unit of AOL Time Warner , apparently decided to split the work between the two.

“This is a great outcome for AOL,” said Len Short, executive vice president, AOL Brand Marketing. “Wieden’s work was truly brilliant — BBDO’s work was brilliant, and the great thing for us is that the two will work brilliantly together.”

The review process was begun less than a week after Short was named to his position, in mid-January, after leaving a marketing post at Charles Schwab & Co. One of his first acts on the job was to fire AOL’s long-time agency, Gotham, a division of the Interpublic Group.

Omnicom Group’s BBDO New York got a chance to show what it could do when it was selected back in March to handle AOL’s broadband-related marketing efforts — a key assignment for an ISP that is struggling to rope broadband subscribers as its dial-up customer numbers continue to dwindle. The agency’s efforts included the “World Wide Wow” campaign, featuring Sharon Stone, which debuted during the Oscar telecast.

BBDO New York’s president and CEO, Bill Katz, described the expansion of duties as, “a tribute to our current broadband effort,” which recognized the contributions the agency had made to AOL’s business.

One of the key pieces of BBDO’s expanded list of responsibilities is the launch of AOL 9.0, the latest version of its software, which is codenamed “Blue Hawaii” and due out later this year.

Still, the “tribute” to BBDO’s work fell short of awarding it the more prestigious and lucrative branding job that want to Portland, Oreg.-based Wieden + Kennedy.

“What a huge win for us,” said Dan Wieden, president and founder of Wieden + Kennedy. “This brand is an intimate part of 60 million lives in this country. Giving it a clear, compelling voice is a massive responsibility.”

Wieden + Kennedy is best known for its award-winning work for Nike. The company works across all media, and also counts Miller, Coca-Cola and Amazon.com among its clients.

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