Tech Titan Dell Launches Creative Review

Marketer's Eye Wanders Beyond WPP as Three-Year Deal on $4.5 Billion Account Comes to Close

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Nearly three years after signing a massive, multibillion-dollar marketing contract with WPP, Dell is looking elsewhere. The Round Rock, Texas-based tech giant has begun asking shops outside of the largest ad holding company in the world to pitch ideas for a key portion of its advertising account.

"We're doing a review for advertising, for creative only, for our consumer, small, medium and public businesses," Dell spokesman David Frink told Ad Age. "Media is not impacted, neither is PR. We're doing this because we think it's appropriate to continuously review our creative and we've previously talked about working outside of WPP."

The business under review is understood to be handled by WPP's Y&R, San Francisco, as well as Wunderman. The review does not affect Y&R's brand-advertising assignment for Dell. The agencies did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

According to another Dell representative, Bob Kaufman, the company has "invited a variety of companies to participate" in the review, including at least one of the incumbents. "Y&R is our current agency of record and they have been invited to participate in the review process," he said.

The pitch will be managed by California-based search consultancy Select Resources International, which referred calls to the client. "We expect to select the additional agency partner sometime this winter," Mr. Kaufman said.

The timing of the review comes as Dell nears the end of its three-year contract with WPP, which at the time of its signing in late 2007 was estimated to be worth $4.5 billion. That deal marked the creation of Enfatico, a standalone unit built to service Dell's marketing needs which became a widely watched experiment in adland -- ramping up and dismantling in record time.

At its biggest, Enfatico had some 1,000 global staffers. In April 2009, the unit, which had struggled with the recession and client changes, was collapsed into Y&R, and the breakdown of Enfatico continued into early 2010 with WPP's Cohn & Wolfe Group division and its PR agency Axicom absorbing Enfatico's U.S. and European PR team.

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Contributing: Michael Bush

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