Skype Hands Global Account to Omnicom Shops TBWA, Rapp, Wolff Olins

VoIP Player Looks to Improve Overall Brand Positioning, Education Efforts to Build on High Awareness

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Skype has awarded its $80 million global advertising business to a trio of Omnicom Group agencies: TBWA, London, Rapp and Wolff Olins.

Skype has already spent $4.2 million in the first half of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Skype has already spent $4.2 million in the first half of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
The final round in late September included creative and brand strategy team pitches from Havas' Euro RSCG and Conran Design Group; Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB and FutureBrand; and two teams from Omnicom: Rapp, partnered with Interbrand, TBWA and Wolff Olins.

Skype was so impressed with Rapp, said Neil Stevens, VP-general manager of Skype's consumer business, that it expanded its initial brief to include the agency.

"Rapp did a great job of positioning themselves on eCRM, so we added them into the brief to expand our CRM capabilities," he said, referring to the agency's work on electronic customer-relationship management, which includes databases and online customer service, among other specialities.

TBWA will lead Skype's global creative, and Rapp will handle CRM and adapt the global platform for the U.S. Wolff Olins, meanwhile, will spearhead Skype's strategic brand architecture and overall brand positioning. The review was called in July to consolidate Skype's group of local agencies, such as Swirl in the U.S. and Albion in U.K.

Lacking the big picture
"We had a number of agencies in different regions," said Mr. Stevens, who joined the internet telecom company in April. "What we were missing was an overall strategic brand position. We had lots of execution, but not an overall brand platform. We felt we could be more consistent globally and also be able to execute locally."

Mr. Stevens said new work from Skype will explain how to use the VoIP service and tap into the brand's digital heritage.

"Skype already has high awareness," Mr. Stevens said. "The work we have to do is get people to understand Skype. We'll do a lot more around education, video-related and viral. It won't be huge, above-the-line [advertising]; we'll be more digital, video and social networking."

Skype, which is owned by eBay, spent $2.2 million in U.S. measured media in 2008 and has already spent $4.2 million in the first half of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The company will continue to work with incumbent, London-based integrated agency Albion until the end of the year. AAR in London managed the review.

Skype's founders are currently involved in a legal battle with eBay, following that company's announcement that it would be selling the service to a group of investors, including private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

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Michael Bush contributed to this report.

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