Hill Holliday has selected the first round of companies for partnership in its Project Beacon program, it was announced today by Mike Sheehan, Chief Executive Officer of Hill Holliday. One of the selected companies, Hitchery, will debut at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival March 9-13.

Project Beacon, announced earlier this year by Hill Holliday, is an agency initiative designed to promote collaboration, proactive partnership, and strategic counsel between Hill Holliday and the ad-tech startup community.

“We’ve been working closely with startups for years, but Project Beacon formalizes our commitment to emerging companies that can have a positive impact on our clients’ businesses,” said Mike Sheehan, CEO of Hill Holliday. “We’re proud to have helped develop the game design and user experience of Hitchery. What better place to debut than the SXSW Interactive Festival?”

Hitchery is a mobile hitchhiking game that lets players create "hitchers" - virtual characters that have adventures around the world by hitching rides on players' phones. The mobile phone becomes a "bus" that can pick up hitchers and bring them on a user’s travels, and then drop them off at real-world places when and where a user chooses. Players can create specific goals for their hitchers, such as "make it to SXSW" or "collect pictures of cool parties," share photos, and conduct conversations in real time with other players. Hill Holliday has been working on the user experience and game dynamics with Hitchery in preparation for launch this spring.

“With Hitchery, players will be able to enhance their SXSW experience by sharing it with other players from all over the world,” said Glen Daniels, Hitchery's founder. “And sending a hitcher is a great way to virtually attend even if you can't make the show. We're thrilled to be working with Hill Holliday to craft some great experiences for our players at SXSW and beyond.”

After the initial call for entries for its Beacon project, Hill Holliday received more than 50 applicants, from which 12 companies were selected to become innovation partners: Cognitive Match, ChoiceStream CRUNCH, Linkable Networks, SecondScreen Networks, ThinkFlood, MyCityWay, Hitchery, CityVoter, CampusLIVE, Crowdly, Nanigans, and ShareThis.

The selected companies cover a variety of marketing technologies, from targeting to mobile to social, but share two traits: the ability to impact both creative and media opportunities in a significant way, and offerings that are a potential fit with existing Hill Holliday clients. Hill Holliday will provide the selected companies with client introductions, advice on positioning, product roadmaps, and growth plans; in return, the agency will gain a greater level of early access and participation in beta phase or new-product development. Most importantly, Hill Holliday and the Beacon partners will bring innovative programs to market faster than ever before.

For more on the launch of Project Beacon, please visit: http://www.hhcc.com/blog/2011/09/working-with-start-ups/.

About Hill Holliday

We are a self-made, came-from-nothing agency, and because of that, we take nothing for granted. At the heart of our culture is performance. If we don’t deliver, we don’t have clients. We work on big, demanding, complicated pieces of business, and we hold on to them for an average of eight years — some for much, much longer. Why? Because at our core, we are family. We take care of our own, both our employees and our clients. We offer unparalleled account service backed by smart, effective creative designed to move our clients’ businesses forward. We work very hard to protect what we have. What do we have? Over 850 people who bring unbeatable talent and expertise to every area of communications — strategy and planning, advertising, digital and social, media planning and buying, and branded content on behalf of industry leaders like Verizon Wireless, Bank of America, Liberty Mutual, Dunkin’ Donuts, Major League Baseball, (RED), John Hancock, Oxfam America, Chili’s, CIGNA, Great Wolf Resorts, and Novartis. For more about our people, our work, and our culture, please visit www.hillholliday.com.

About Hitchery

Hitchery adds a unique twist to location-based apps by allowing players to send virtual characters to real-world places, interacting with real people and collecting photos along the way. The company is based in the Boston area, and was founded after winning Startup Weekend Boston. For more information about Hitchery, visit www.hitchery.com or search for"Hitchery" in the App Store or Android Market.

Copyright Business Wire 2010