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Online Exclusive: Account Action

SONY DENIES AWARDING AD ACCOUNT TO MCKINNEY & SILVER

Statement Say It Intends to Proceed on 'Project' Basis With Three Agencies

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Denying press reports to the contrary, including one on AdAge.com this morning, Sony Electronics issued a statement this afternoon saying the company has not awarded its $100 million advertising account to Havas' McKinney & Silver of Durham, N.C.
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The electronics giant said it does not intend to select any single agency for the account and, instead, will use three agencies -- McKinney & Silver, Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide and Bagby & Co. -- "on a project basis for its strategic needs."

Project by project
"We will not be engaging in an agency-of-record relationship at this time," the statement said. "We reviewed the capabilities of hundreds of advertising agencies before creating a shortlist of those whose skills, experience and team matched our needs. We look forward to working with all three agencies in the upcoming year."

A Sony spokesman said the company would not answer any questions on the matter or comment further about published reports.

Although specific assignments for the three agencies have not all been handed out, Fallon has already landed an expected hefty assignment for Sony's personal audio products, which includes Walkman and the online music service Connect.

Fallon gets 'comprehensive overhaul'
Fallon's chief marketing officer, Rob Buchner, said the agency will handle all creative and promotion for personal audio; as a specific project, the agency will work on a "comprehensive overhaul" of the Sony's online music service Connect. He declined to comment on the timing of the assignment. He said Fallon won the business about six weeks ago, but respected Sony's wish to remain quiet through the end of the review.

Sony is expected to debut a new personal audio player in the Walkman family in time for the 2005 holiday season; Sony aficionados hope and expect a real rival to the Apple iPod MP3 player as Sony looks to reclaim its lead in the portable music category.

Media buying, which was not up for review, remains unchanged, with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann handling.

The review process started in February after Sony split with the account's incumbent agency, WPP Group's Y&R.

New CMO appointed
Then, midway through the review, Sony Electronics unexpectedly switched chief marketing officers, naming Mike Fasulo to the post, as Sony continues to try to get its brand on track under Sony Corp.'s new chairman-CEO, Howard Stringer.

In the interim, Sony's advertising work has been handled by Bagby & Co. of Chicago, a small, longtime roster shop for Sony.

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., was the consultant on the review.

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