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Microsoft Hands Mobile-Communications Account to Waggener Edstrom

Longtime Agency Partner Will Work With Wexley School for Girls on the Business

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Microsoft has awarded its U.S. mobile-communications business to longtime agency partner Waggener Edstrom, which will partner on the account with Seattle-based marketing and communications firm Wexley School for Girls.

Waggener and Wexley's work on the account 'will all pretty much be centered around the Windows Mobile business,' according to Tom Pilla, general manager of corporate communications at Microsoft.
Waggener and Wexley's work on the account 'will all pretty much be centered around the Windows Mobile business,' according to Tom Pilla, general manager of corporate communications at Microsoft.
The mobile-communications business, which is part of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division, has been managed by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Weber Shandwick for the past five years. Weber, which referred all calls to Microsoft, and independent Edelman also pitched for the business. Both agencies are current and longtime Microsoft roster agencies.

Waggener and Wexley, which will take over the account July 1, will be charged with running strategic communications, traditional and digital public relations, media relations, and product launches that "will all pretty much be centered around the Windows Mobile business," said Tom Pilla, general manager of corporate communications at Microsoft. This is the first time in five years Microsoft has held a review for the business. "We go through these reviews routinely on different businesses every year or so," Mr. Pilla said.

Waggener, Microsoft's corporate agency of record, has worked with the software giant for 25 years. And while Wexley's relationship with Microsoft isn't a quarter of a century old, it has worked with Microsoft on a range of traditional, digital, grass-roots and product-launch projects in the past six years.

Crossed paths in the past
Frank Shaw, global president of the Microsoft account for Waggener, said the two agencies have crossed paths on efforts for Microsoft in the past but never worked together from the start. The two have partnered on corporate communications projects and assignments for Windows.

"We have been looking for the opportunity to work together from the outset of a project as opposed to intersecting towards the end," Mr. Shaw said. "We looked at this opportunity, and it made sense to come together as a joint team." The account will be run out of Waggener's Bellevue, Wash., office and headed by Melissa Havel.

"We always built our strategies after the fact or integrated things late," said Brian Marr, managing director at Wexley. "By getting together right at the beginning and building the strategy together, we'll deliver something that will hopefully be exponentially better than if we bolted together later on down the line."

Mr. Pilla said Microsoft's relationships with Edelman and Weber will also continue.

"Both firms will continue to be valued engaged partners with Microsoft," Mr. Pilla said. "Weber will continue to support us in [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] and on MSTV and a bunch of other different accounts. And Edelman obviously does great work for us in terms of Xbox and other areas."

Revenue drops, perception rises
Last week Microsoft reported its first year-over-year quarterly revenue drop, but Bill Koefoed, general manager of investor relations, said the company has seen "measurable perception increase for Windows from our recent advertising campaigns. Specifically, our research shows that 10% increase in preference to Windows PCs since the campaign launched."

Microsoft also sold 1.7 million Xbox consoles during the quarter, up almost 30% from the same quarter last year.

Microsoft recently consolidated all of its direct-marketing business under WPP's Wunderman as part of a roster consolidation. And in March the company launched its latest round of consumer marketing, created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, called "Laptop Hunters."

Interpublic's McCann is Microsoft's longtime lead creative shop, but the software maker has shifted many significant creative duties to Crispin and WPP's JWT in the past year. Universal McCann, also an Interpublic shop, is Microsoft's media agency.

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