Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the b-to-b business of HP that split into a separate company last year, put its creative agency account into review in January.
BBDO, part of Omnicom, was the incumbent lead creative agency and confirmed that it will not be participating in the review. According to executives with knowledge of the situation, BBDO determined it would be unable to work with HPE moving forward due to the agency's belief that it would be in direct conflict with AT&T's enterprise business, which BBDO handles.
In the following Q&A, Henry Gomez, executive VP-chief marketing and communications officer at HPE, talks about what the company is looking for in a creative agency partner and where it is in the review process. HPE is using Ark Advisors as search consultant.
Ad Age: Why was there a need for an agency review?
Mr. Gomez: We've had a very successful relationship with BBDO and Omnicom now for four-plus years. We separated back in November, and there has been great work on the creative coming out of the separation. We are going to continue with the 'Accelerating Next' campaign. Come January, I felt like we needed to take a look at the creative. Our industry is changing very, very rapidly, and our company is changing. We wanted to take another look at what we could do creatively and across the portfolio of companies we work with, although we are really focused on finding a lead agency on the creative side.
Ad Age: How are you positioning HPE?
Mr. Gomez: We are a new brand and we've had a great kickoff, thanks to work done internally and with BBDO. Now, how do we break through to all sorts of new consumers? We are no longer marketing to just the CTO and the CIO. Now, we are marketing to the entire C-suite, developers and a diverse group of folks. We are looking to break through to a different audience.
We want to continue the core campaign 'Accelerating Next.' That is very important to us and hits the right note. What we really want to look at is, how we can position our brand even more uniquely? One thing I've found in the technology industry is that a lot of the marketing and a lot of the campaigns look alike. You have to work really hard to break through. We are looking for different thinking and new ways of doing things.
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Ad Age: What is the scope of the work?
Mr. Gomez: We are looking for one lead agency that can handle integrated, TV, digital, social -- across the board. We are a b-to-b firm, and we do a lot of demand gen and digital. We are a fairly big challenge end-to-end, and we're also global, so we are looking for reach and creative talent.
Ad Age: What is most important to you in an agency partner?
Mr. Gomez: It's a big challenge, certainly in technology, to break though. The review really started because we wanted to see creatively what more we could do and how much further we could take the brand. We are really looking for breakthrough creative instead of a strict technology agency. It's less about the technology capability and more about 'Can you think differently in terms of our business and help us break through with a diverse offering?' We have cast a fairly wide net and we have now narrowed the list to about five agencies.
Ad Age: Can you name the agencies on your short list?
Mr. Gomez: Not at this time.
Ad Age: When do you expect to make a decision?
Mr. Gomez: As soon as possible. We'd like to make a decision by the middle of April. And I suspect we'll be working on the transition over the next six to eight months.