Microsoft Agency Review Pushes on Despite Marketing Leadership Shakeup

Original RFP Asked for Agency Solution to have Presence in Washington D.C., where Mark Penn is Based

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Chris Capossela
Chris Capossela

Microsoft's massive global agency review is moving right along despite marketing leadership changes that moved Mark Penn, a key decision-maker in the review, to a chief strategy officer role and returned Chris Capossela to the role of chief marketing officer.

Participating agencies had their first meeting with the tech giant this week in D.C., where Mr. Penn is based, according to people familiar with the matter. Next are regional meetings in Shanghai and London. Final presentations are set for April 9 and 10 in the U.S.

The final presentations were originally expected to happen in D.C., but they're now moving to the Seattle area, people familiar with the matter said. That's where Mr. Capossela, a 23-year Microsoft vet who served in a top marketing role between 2011 and 2013, is based.

The original review document also said the company expected agencies to include planning resources in both Washington State and D.C. It's not immediately clear what impact the subsequent leadership changes, or Mr. Capossela's more hands-on role in the pitch, will have on that request.

Despite the changes, Mr. Penn was present at the agency meetings in D.C. this week.

WPP and Publicis Groupe support the bulk of Microsoft's business. Interpublic Group also supports various elements of Microsoft marketing. Here's how the holding company teams are shaping up for the review:

Mark Penn
Mark Penn

Within Interpublic Group, McCann Worldgroup is leading the creative charge and working closely with media agency UM, with support from parent network Mediabrands, among other IPG shops like Mullen, Deutsch and Reprise.

And within Publicis, players include media agency network Starcom MediaVest Group, creative shop Saatchi & Saatchi and digital giant Razorfish, among other agencies.

WPP's team consists of resources from media agency network GroupM, incumbent Wunderman, digital shop Possible and creative giants Y&R and JWT among a handful of experts from other shops.

According to people familiar with the matter, an Aegis team is also pitching for the media business.

Mr. Penn, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, joined Microsoft in a strategy role after stepping down from his post at WPP PR giant Burson-Marsteller in 2012.

Microsoft last month named 22-year Microsoft veteran Satya Nadella to be CEO, succeeding longtime chief Steve Ballmer.

The company spent $1.1 billion on U.S. advertising and marketing in 2012, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

The companies mentioned in this article either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

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