DELL SHIFTS U.S. CONSUMER AD ACCOUNT TO BBDO

Spending Estimated at $250 Million; Incumbent DDB Retains Global Business

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Dell Computer Corp. is shifting its estimated $250 million U.S. consumer advertising account to Omnicom Group’s BBDO, Atlanta, according to executives familiar with the matter.
Dell is the world's No. 1 maker of PCs.

Limited review
The move from incumbent and Omnicom sibling DDB, Chicago, follows a review limited to the holding company’s agencies. DDB retains global consumer and enterprise marketing and business-to-business duties and possibly a portion of the U.S. consumer business as well, according to these executives.

Agency executives referred calls to Dell. A Dell representative would only say that DDB remains Dell’s agency of record.

Dell, the No. 1 PC maker globally, spent $470 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2004 and $272 million over the first half of 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Direct efforts
The bulk of Dell’s marketing budget is spent on its direct efforts, particularly free-standing inserts in newspapers and direct-mail catalogs and offers to existing customers. The brand hasn’t had major TV exposure since its "Dell Dude" days a few years ago. A branded effort featuring a Dr. Phil-like character named “Davis Davis” launched last fall, but was dismissed by critics as confusing and it faded from the airwaves.

The Dell brand also sustained a big hit last year when popular blogger Jeff Jarvis took his Dell computer customer service tale to the Web last summer, spewing vitriol over several weeks until the company remedied his problems.

Turnover
Marketing leadership turnover, too, has been a problem of late. Michael George quit as chief marketing officer in November to become CEO at QVC. Following him out the door was Michael Farello, VP-consumer marketing and e-business, in December. Mr. Farello had worked for Mr. George at Dell since 2002 and before that at their previous employer McKinsey & Co. Mr. Farello left Dell to join private equity firm Catterton Partners last month.

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